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Aug 10 2010

Artist Interview- WAV Resident Larissa Strauss

 
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By Sophia Williams

It's time to cancel your flights and reservations, no longer will you need to travel thousands of miles to the ruins of Byzantium in Ravenna, Italy--now you can view the ancient art of Mosaics right here in the 805. Ravenna, a small city on the coast of Northern Italy, holds some of the world's finest preserved examples of the most intricate and difficult type of mosaics, which is aptly named the Ravenna Method. Larissa Strauss, an artist that is currently living and working at the WAV (Working Artists Ventura) project has made use of the Ravenna Method due to inspiration from a Scottish artist she met in Ravenna. He taught her this technique, and although difficult and very time consuming, she decided to use it for the purpose of a more painterly result for her pieces.

 

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Born in Santa Barbara, Strauss spent most of her life here, save a few periods of time where she resided in San Francisco, attended UC Davis, and taught English in Korea. Unlike most artists, Strauss only began her art career as she neared her thirties. She had always taken pleasure in designing and creating her own jewelry, however she never intently pursued a career in art until she was 29. 11 years ago Strauss began her artistic venture by collaborating with a friend on her very first mosaic piece--utilizing 3 design elements derived from ancient Greek and Roman coins. 

 

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After her first attempt at the art of mosaics, Larissa Strauss realized this form of art and its intensive process was something she wanted to develop further and devote her time to. She then began receiving a steady flow of commissions and this artistic process rapidly transformed into a steady way of living.

Four years ago, after Strauss' first public commission--Marina Parkwhich was 26 feet long and definitely caught the attention of the public eye--she was approached and asked to create a series of eight mosaics depicting the historical timeline of Ventura County commissioned by the Docent Committee and located at the recently renovated Museum of Ventura County on Main Street. 

 

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After Strauss was chosen to complete this project, she attended several meetings and discussions where the compositions were decided upon. In order to take the next step in this commissioned mosaic process, it was crucial for Larissa to paint the eight scenes--although she had no formal training in the art of painting--to create a basis from with to begin the mosaic. Each panel depicts a different point in the history of Ventura county from the Chumash to World War II. This project is important not only for its aesthetic value, but for its teaching power for children that will view it and learn from it for years to come.
 
After finishing this momentous commission, Strauss began teaching Mosaic classes in her own studio--she hopes to continue these as well as the commissions in the future. Her experimentation with painting sparked a fresh inspiration to continue on with it in hopes of broadening her talents and aiding her mosaics.
 
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Photo Credit: http://www.ladyephoto.com/

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