Member Spotlight: Laurel True of True Mosaics Studio
Laurel True is a mosaic artist specializing in public and community-based artwork. She facilitates trainings and teaches people how to make large-scale mosaic murals and architectural mosaics. Laurel’s work can be found in streets all over the world but has also been commissioned for commercial and residential installations. She has been a member of Fractured Atlas since 2011 and recently sat down with us to talk about her work, life as an artist in New Orleans, and how being a member of Fractured Atlas has helped to improve the business side of her arts projects.
How has living in New Orleans impacted your work?
New Orleans impacts my work a lot in that it’s an inspiring, thriving, and vital city. It’s all about community and family. I travel a lot for my work but I feel like all of the work that I’ve done in New Orleans has been community-based. I’ve felt really accepted and have been able to work in different neighborhoods. There’s so much possibility here.
What inspired you to become a member of Fractured Atlas?
I started working with Fractured Atlas about 20 years into my career. I reached out to them because I started doing a lot more community-based work versus public art and commercially-funded work. That eventually started to take more of my time and energy and I felt like I needed a way for that work to get funded.
I was researching how to start my own non-profit organization. I decided not to once I realized I had to get a board together and how time-consuming the process was. I was really immersed in the work. I was about to do a grant project in Haiti and I just wanted to get it going. I used to self-fund a lot of community-based work but once I started doing so much of it I really wanted to find a fiscal sponsor. So I did some research and found Fractured Atlas online and though it was perfect. I read all of their information, put in an application, and started working with Fractured Atlas in 2011 with my organization “The Global Mosaic Project.” I put this project under the umbrella of my company and Fractured Atlas allowed me to be more free and not have to manage a lot of the red tape and bureaucracy.
What were your biggest challenges before working with Fractured Atlas?
My biggest challenge before working with Fractured Atlas involved trying to create a situation where people could donate to a project and then get a tax write-off. Around the time that I was crowdsourcing, I wanted to partner with certain organizations. But a lot of those organizations didn’t have the capacity to do their own fundraising and I didn’t want to take their resources away. So working with Fractured Atlas just allowed me to be able to streamline everything.
All of the administrative paperwork can be overwhelming. I have a small organization and I do a lot of those things. So if I’m out in the streets trying to teach people how to make a mural or I’m doing some kind of community development work- things where I’m actually on the ground- having all of the administrative and organizational stuff managed helps me feel less overwhelmed. Fractured Atlas receiving donations on my behalf took a lot of work off of my plate.
What are some of the realities faced by artists in New Orleans?
In contrast to other cities that have thriving art scenes, New Orleans isn’t a big city so there aren’t opportunities for funding here on the scale of larger cities. There are so many artists and musicians here that many artists struggle with how to keep things going. I travel a lot for work and I’m not sure I could make it with the type of work that I do if I stayed in New Orleans 100% of the time.
New Orleans is a special city and, of course, it has its issues- social and infrastructural. But it also has every kind of joy. So there’s that dichotomy. There’s a really essential, living vibration here that, for me as an artist, is really inspiring. So I’m willing to navigate some of the more difficult aspects of the city so that I can make this my base.
About Molaundo Jones
Molaundo Jones is a visual artist, entrepreneur, and arts adminstrator. As Social Media Specialist, he creates strategies and content for social media marketing and works with our members to develop a comprehensive calendar of events. Molaundo is a New York native, earned his MFA in Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts, and BA in Marketing at Morehouse College. He is founder of The Clever Agency, a communications consultancy and develops professional development programs for Queens Council on the Arts. He has also worked with the New York Foundation on the Arts' Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program and Artist as Entrepreneur Bootcamp and has served as a grant panelist for Bryant Park Corporation, Brooklyn Arts Council, and the Museum of Art and Design.