Presenting visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces.

Laurie Breton’s pilgrimage for the festival is longer than Holy Week

The festival is coming upon us soon, so it is time to get to know another artist gracing 14th street on October. Allow me to introduce Laurie LeBreton. For the festival, she promised to bring 300 figures with her. What figure you may ask? Well it has something to do with her journey, thus naming her work “Pilgrimage”. Let’s just say she hopes each “piece” will bring “peace” to anyone passing by. Yes, that is a lot of peace.

Watch out for these figures next week. Rumor has it she will collaborate with another Art in Odd Places 2011 artists. For now, get to know Laurie a little more.

Laurie Lebreton, photo provided by artist

Aiop: Tell us about you?
LL: I make installations of sculptures of handmade paper and sound. I often work with
multiples of objects, although the 300 figures in “Pilgrimage” is a record for me. One
important influence in my work is the popular religious art of other cultures – Indian
roadside shrines, Haitian altars, the stands selling religious objects outside Central
American cathedrals. I find my materials everywhere – fabric stores, dollar stores,
grocery stores.

AiOP: How did you hear about Art in Odd Places?
LL: Doug Stapleton, the curator for the State of Illinois Gallery in Chicago, forwarded the
information to me. He thought that “Pilgrimage” would work well in the festival.

AiOP: Walk us through your thought process in creating your piece for Art in Odd Places.
LL: “Pilgrimage” has about 300 figures 14” to 30” tall. I start with simple wire armatures
that I cover with wet handmade paper. As the paper dries and shrinks, the figures
change shape slightly. When they’re dry I ornament them in various ways. No two
figures are alike.

photo provided by artist

I started making the figures after a visit to Laos, where I went on two pilgrimages. One
was to a cave that had 2,000 Buddhas in it; the other was to a small shrine with two
Buddhas on the side of a hill. I was very moved by both pilgrimages and decided to
create my own moveable shrine when I came back.

photo provided by artist
photo provided by artist

My figures aren’t necessarily Buddhas. They’re kind of generic spiritual figures that
viewers interpret in many different ways, as spirits, as ancestors, and as a depiction
of community. I’ve exhibited them in very different settings – a community garden, a
downtown Chicago building and in a public park.

The sound component of “Pilgrimage” – you’ll be able to hear it through Broadcastr
during the festival – is called “A Full Taste of Happiness.” It’s about both my trip to
Laos as well as the pursuit of happiness in all our lives.

photo provided by artist

AiOP: How is the preparation coming along?
LL: It’s coming along really well! I was wondering how I was going to find a spot from
Chicago, but another AIOP artist, Dahlia Elsayed, suggested I contact the 14th Street
Framing Gallery, at 225 W. 14th Street. The space is perfect! My only challenge is
getting all 300 figures into the window.

AiOP: Where will see you along 14th street during the festival?
LL: I’m installing on the 29th. You can visit the figures anytime during the festival.

AiOP: What do you hope to bring to the festival?
LL: Maybe a sense of peace? A quiet moment on a busy street? I’m always surprised by the many different things that viewers see in the figures, but it’s usually peaceful.

AiOP: Any message to the people who will be in 14th street during the festival?
LL: Yes, of course. I hope you’ll stop for a minute and look Maybe you’ll catch a moment of

AiOP: Where can we reach you

AiOP: Any final words?
LL: Yes – the Miraculous Artist and I will be doing something together at one point during
the festival. We haven’t decided yet what or when, but we anticipate something
spectacular when we combine her power with the power of the figures.

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