The Opera Gallery in New York is set to open a solo show from Lori Earley on June 7th marking her successful return after a long hiatus. Entitled The Devil’s Pantomime, her largest exhibition to date featuring 34 new paintings comprises of surreal portraits of her characteristic females. We talk to her about a reason why her women may look the way they do, her struggles with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and more in the interview below. Check out the Q&A’s as well as preview images and make plans to be at her opening…


Arrested Motion (AM): Can you tell us a little about your background and training?

Lori Earley (LE): I grew up in Westchester County, New York which is about fifteen minutes from the Bronx and thirty-five minutes from New York City. I went to The School of Visual Arts in New York City and in my opinion, had the perfect blend of teachers. I took what I liked best about the teachings and style of each teacher and came up with my own style. I was classically-trained to paint like the old masters and applied that technique to my own style which I developed when I was a young teenager.



AM: It looks like it has been almost five years since your last solo show. This has in no small part been due to your struggle with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and its painful effects. How has the syndrome affected your schedule, painting technique, and/or subject matter? Hopefully you have gotten better recently and are able to go back to making art full time.

LE: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is an extremely rare, genetic condition in which your collagen is different from normal collagen. Collagen is the “glue” that holds your entire body together (bones, tendons, ligaments, organs, etc.). Ehlers-Danlos affects every part of my life. There is no cure and treatment is preventative. The only thing you can really do to keep Ehlers-Danlos under control is to do physical therapy to stabilize your joints, get surgeries, monitor your health and wear braces when and where you need them. I was diagnosed late in life because the doctors had never heard of it, but I knew something was wrong. I did fifteen years of my own research, I found out that I had it and it was later confirmed by four geneticists.

I really think that subconsciously my painting style developed from my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. This is because I just feel very stretchy and elongated inside, since we are naturally stretchy and contortionists. As for its painful affects, I think you can clearly see that in my paintings.

Ehlers-Danlos affected my entire right shoulder, arm, wrist and hand. Had I been diagnosed earlier, I believe I could have prevented most of the corrective surgeries I’ve had and would not have caused as much damage to my arm through painting. If I cannot paint anymore, I will find another creative outlet for myself, like perhaps photography and/or making jewelry. I can no longer paint large paintings. I am a fighter though, and I’ve already decided that EDS is NOT going to stop me from anything though.


AM: Interestingly enough, you stated in a previous interview that characteristics of the syndrome (people that suffer from it have stretchy elongated limbs, large eyes) may have subconsciously affected the way you painted people. Are there any other inspirations and influences you can point to?

LE: Yes, as I had mentioned I really think that because my art is a form of self-expression. The subjects I paint ironically look like people with the features of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I have all the features, the large eyes, pale translucent skin, etc. As for outside influences, I grew up in a very unartistic household and had hardly any exposure to the arts. The only outside influence I can think of is designer Alexander McQueen because his women look ethereal and timeless and remind me of what I would want my world to look like.


AM: It sounds like you have a pretty intensive process including multiple drawings as well as photoshoots. Can you elaborate a little more about this?

LE: A lot is involved with creating a painting. First, I make a quick sketch of the idea, but it’s not until the actual photo shoot where I really get inspired and can envision my idea. After that, I create a line drawing from the photo I choose (my favorite part of the process and the most creative part as well). I then transfer the drawing onto my canvas, and paint about five under-paintings, painting the darks first and building up to the lights. This technique wasn’t something I was taught in art school, I just find that this process gives the painting more depth.


AM: You have mentioned before that you would like to create sculptural works. Have you had the chance experiment with this medium and will be we be seeing some three-dimensional works from you in the future?

LE: No not yet. I started a sculpture for my upcoming show but ran out of time to finish it. I do plan on making sculptures though, as it would be easier on my body.

AM: For your upcoming exhibition, you chose the title “The Devil’s Pantomine.” How did you come of
with this to describe your latest body of work?

LE: I had to take a “hiatus” after 2009 to get all the corrective surgeries I needed to get back on track because I just couldn’t tolerate the physical pain anymore – it started to affect every aspect of my life. I felt like I was in a living hell during those five years and put most of this show together in bed during the recovery time after my surgeries, hence the title “The Devil’s Pantomime”. It’s a glimpse into the pain, isolation and frustration I felt during those rough years. I have to mention though that I received hundreds of letters from my fans during this tough time and they really kept me going, so I want to thank them for that. I truly love my fans and can’t wait to meet some of them at my show.


AM: Any other other upcoming shows and projects that you can share with your fans?

LE: No, not yet. I cannot plan ahead of time anymore and just have to take it day-by-day. I really am excited to see all my friends and fans and to be showing again – I didn’t think the day would ever come! This will be my largest show to date with about thirty-four pieces in it as well as limited edition prints which will be available at the show. My upcoming solo show will be at the Opera Gallery on 115 Spring Street in NYC, Saturday, June 7th, 2014. The opening reception will be from 6:30pm – 9:30pm and I will be in attendence as well so make sure to stop by!

Discuss Lori Earley here.