Elementary teacher shows her art work at UNM-VC art gallery

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“Painting the Wacha way.”

That’s exactly what local artist Laura Wacha does when using every available color on her palette to cover a blank canvas.

Jon Lechel photo: Local artist Laura Wacha discusses her work during an artist’s reception at the UNM-Valencia Campus in the Fine Arts Gallery. Her exhibit runs through Monday, Nov. 4.

Wacha, who teaches kindergarten through third grade at H.T. Jaramillo Community School in Belen, has a vivid imagination, to say the least.

When painting in acrylic, her inspiration comes from multiple angles.

“My work is about my life, both on the small scale, and also my interpretations of what’s going on in the rest of the planet, from politics to social mores, war, religion, etc.,” Wacha said. “I’m like an oyster being irritated by a grain of sand. Hopefully, my paintings are the pearls that help me deal with the annoying aspects of being human.”

Wacha, who describes her work as narrative, figurative, somewhat surreal and darkly funny, loves spending time in her studio.

“I have a wonderful studio. My absolute favorite place. I like to paint every day, if possible,” she said.

With all the activity going on in her studio, it’s easy to understand why her paintings are so strikingly colorful.

“Often my 10-year-old daughter is there making stuff as well, if it’s before her bedtime. The TV is almost always on. The news, old movies, sitcoms, nothing too challenging,” Wacha said. “Music makes me dance, and then my hand shakes when I paint. Not good.”

Wacha, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., has been a part of more than 40 exhibitions since 1986, according to her online résumé.

Along with her extensive collection of paintings, she also creates sculptures with papier-mâché and begins each project differently.

“I always start a painting by sketching just whatever comes out, like a visual version of spontaneous writing. Then I edit and alter the image for content and composition before moving it to canvas,” Wacha said. “My sculptures are approached very differently, being inspired by the globes and cardboard tubes, etc., that form their armatures.”

If she could give a piece of advice to aspiring artists, what would it be?

“If you love doing it, do it. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of your work,” Wacha said. “Practice does not always make perfect, but it does make better.”

Wacha’s work is on display in the Fine Arts Gallery at UNM-VC until Monday, Nov. 4, or can be found online at www.laurawacha.com.