Behind the Muse: with Laura Thompson

Laura Thompson is a mother, a wife, an artist and she teaches art at Thomas Harrison Middle School. For those of you familiar with the middle school species, that translates to: Laura has the patience of a saint. I recently visited an art exhibit of student work that Laura organized at the Blue Nile in downtown Harrisonburg. The show consisted of hand-sewn monsters that represented the student’s secrets, inner demons and fears. The artwork was impressive enough on it’s own, but to read the words of a middle schooler explaining that part of themselves was downright powerful. The world needs more teachers like this woman. We’re thrilled that she is dedicating a chunk of her precious time to participate in Art Lotto again this year. Laura will be creating a portrait of Greg Sultan. Laura’s portrait will be created by Sharon Skates.

Laura works on a sketch of her Art Lotto partner, Greg Sultan.
Laura works on a sketch of her Art Lotto partner, Greg Sultan.

“I love that the Art Lotto process can be so organic. Like last year, I came to the meeting with no plan, no expectations, and an open mind. When I met Greg Sultan at the Baja Bean in Staunton, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had talked to him briefly at the Luck of the Draw, and had looked at his website, but had no idea what form his portrait would ultimately take. I am an art teacher, so I know a wide range of media. At first I thought maybe glass, then maybe wood block printing, then maybe watercolor. I still haven’t landed on one for sure. 
But I know what it will be called: He told me that he is heading far away from here — uprooting, transplanting, reestablishing — and with that comes much change and adjustment. With change comes potential — to do, to be, to create, to build. These things are choices we can make, and even though we might sometimes feel like our chance has passed, “There’s Still Time.” ~Laura

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Behind the Muse: with Michael Trocchia

“I’m interested in the gaze, in what it holds and hides, in its metaphysic. With this piece, I wanted to work with the gaze of two, both Laura’s and that of Seneca’s, a stoic philosopher from antiquity. So, there is a bit of theater to the piece, a theater of silence perhaps. Laura, you can say, plays the lead and she’s brought something both fierce and vulnerable to it.” ~Michael

above: artist Michael Trocchia in front of his canvas
above: artist Michael Trocchia in front of his canvas

Michael Trocchia might as well just start a revolution. He has been pumping out creativity with every beat of his heart since I met him. The kind of man you walk away from feeling a wee bit smarter. If you don’t believe me, do yourself a solid and grab a cup of coffee, click this link to The Dirty Napkin and press play. You’ll here his voice ooze through the speakers and you’ll be left wondering which is smoother: him or your coffee. Michael has had a heavy hand in many intellectual happenings. You may have seen his films in the Super Gr8 Film Festival, heard him read at countless poetry readings, stumbled upon his published writing in several journals and blogs (like here, and here, and here, oh and here too aaaand here). You may have attended a play he adapted and directed at Court Square Theater called Stephen Crane’s The Blue Hotel in which he also curated an art show inspired by the plot. You may have been a student in his Philosophy class at JMU or witnessed a romantic glare exchanged between him and his lovely wife. But it wouldn’t have been until this year, that you would have seen the art work of Michael Trocchia outside the walls of his home. In January, he held his very first solo art show at Black Swan in Staunton, Va. His show was a collection of portraits inspired by real life ‘characters’. Prior to this show he mainly painted other types of characters: “imaginary people, fictional people, characters dreamed up…ones that belonged to a story never written,” Michael describes.  When this year’s Lotto sign ups came around, he was definitely on my radar. Looking at his work is reminiscent of reading his poetry in that it paints us a picture, except this time, literally. For Art Lotto, Trocchia randomly selected the name of Laura Thompson and we will see his version of her come August. Fellow artist Elliott Downs will be portraying Michael.