A sign by the image invites you to play, “I Spy.” What can you find in the tangle of black lines on this canvas, spanning most of the wall? A woman’s smile. Stars. Lizards. A snow boarder riding a swirl. The piece draws you right in, like a White Rabbit’s tunnel, into the magical world of Laura Marti.
Marti was born and raised right here, in Mankato, Minnesota. As long as she can remember, Marti has always loved being creative.
“As a kid I loved to draw and write stories.” said Marti. “My parents always encouraged my creativity and my babysitter, who was very artistic, was a great influence on me.”
When I have an idea for a project, I sketch out rough drafts of what I want it to look like…. The more imaginative doodles and drawings typically just come from my head.Laura Marti
During high school, Marti loved her art classes. She learned painting, pottery, and the art of Garage Band. She graduated from Loyola high school in 2008 and then, chasing some warmer weather, she moved down to Florida for college. She graduated with a degree in Geology. Marti decided to return to Minnesota, where she works as a hydrologist for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. She’s quite busy these days, sharing her home with her partner, two dogs, two cats, and a new baby.
“Now, art is my way to relax and I’ve always got at least one project in the works,” she said.
Natural World at Play
“Even when I was little the drawings were typically animals and nature scenes so not a lot has changed there,” said Marti.
Marti’s backyard is becoming a miniature wildlife refuge. She’s installed vegetable and flower gardens, planted native plants, and installed a pond. She keeps a running list of all the insect species that visit, mostly bees and butterflies. So far there are 80 different species on the list and she’s hoping this year will bring more. She’s involved in Mankato Zero Waste, working to reduce waste and compost. She’s passionate about sustainability and protecting pollinators. Marti’s art reflects her adoration of the natural world.
The majority of this bright and blooming collection at the Fillin’ Station are prints of flora and fauna. There are foxes with flowering tails, porcupines with blooming backs, even a swordfish with a bouquet for a fin. Marti’s work is detailed and cheerful, as if it were blooming from a children’s book.
Art and Process
In some ways, Marti’s work hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years. Just like when she first began drawing as a kid, the majority of Marti’s current work still centers around nature; wildlife, plants, landscapes. Most of her inspiration is drawn from the outdoors.
“Maybe a little Pinterest too,” Marti added.
Her process is simple: conceive, sketch, study, create.
“When I have an idea for a project, I sketch out rough drafts of what I want it to look like. Then if it’s something that I want to look more realistic, like the flower animals, I look at a photo to get shapes and proportions correct,” said Marti. “The more imaginative doodles and drawings typically just come from my head.”
These imaginative pieces are ones like her tree houses, and the I Spy pieces, where realism gives way to magic and surrealism.
One thing that has changed is Marti’s mediums. She’s carved realistic little morel mushrooms that could be mistaken for the real thing. Like a true Minnesotan, she created leather walleyes. She does wood burning and relief carvings, with farm scenes, signs for pollinator gardens, and she’ll also do realistic landscape and natural scenes
“Over the years I’ve expanded to different types of art including chainsaw carving, pottery, painting, wood burning, and making Christmas ornaments,” said Marti.
There are numerous prints for sale, as well as the large hanging pieces. You can buy pieces in-store this month, so contact Marti via her Instagram and follow her there, @lauramarti_made.
Between work, home remodeling, landscaping, and a new baby at home, Marti’s pretty busy these days.
“Life is pretty exciting right now,” she said.
Marti is building up inventory so she can continue to display her work at more exhibitions and shows. Follow Marti and her art journey on Instagram and keep an eye on this bright artist.