Femme and Fatalité : the art of Lori Earley
by Rena Finkel
Lori Earley’s haunting portraiture has been a staple of the alternative and art scenes since she first began exhibiting her works in 2004. The beautiful women in her world are ethereal creatures; fantastic mannerist figures full of secrets. Their large eyes and elongated limbs are immediately recognizable, but it is the elegant-but-fierce melancholy mood that pervades her work that has given Earley such distinction. We were fortunate enough to be able to talk to the New York City artist about her work and her recent diagnosis with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
Tell us about how you developed your style.
Lori Earley : I honestly don’t know, it’s something that just came to me naturally. However, I think I might have finally found the reason and source of the distortion which I will explain later on. In high school art class, I was assigned to draw a self-portrait for the first time. When I drew mine, I found that I had a really difficult time making the eyes look real and in proportion to the rest of the facial features. I always inherently drew them much larger than they were. I tried several times after that to make my drawing look realistic but after several attempts, I had to give up because I just couldn’t do it. Whenever I was asked this question, I would say it was something I couldn’t explain. The best way I could put it into words was that the distortion of my figures was a visual manifestation of how I felt inside. The really interesting thing now though is that I was recently diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. It’s an extremely rare, genetic syndrome in which the physical features of someone with it tend to have large eyes, a slender build and stretchy, elongated hyper-mobile limbs, as I do. The reason for this is because Ehlers-Danlos syndrome affects the collagen in your body which is essentially the “glue” that holds your ligaments, bones, tendons, etc. together so it makes you very hyper-mobile and you tend to feel very stretched and elongated. The interesting thing about having this condition is that you can contort your body into unusual positions (many contortionists have the syndrome), but otherwise, depending on which type you have, the pain can be mild to excruciating, and I think the pain has lent itself well to emotions of the figures in my painting. When I found out I had it, it was like an epiphany! I finally had an answer as to where the natural distortion from my figures came from, and a lot of my fans made the connection as well. It was a very interesting discovery! Because I have Ehlers-Danlos though, it can be very difficult to keep up with my painting along with the business aspect of it (amongst other things), so I need assistance and found an amazing assistant who helps me tremendously with my business. She has been working with me for five years now and has become my best friend as well. I feel she deserves to be mentioned because without her, I wouldn’t be able to paint because I wouldn’t be able to keep up with everything because of my condition. So thank you, Sarah Smith!
read the full article in the October/November 2011 Issue