Laura Rokas (b.1989, Canada) is a San Francisco- based painter, ceramicist, and textile artist. Rokas’s practice embodies a spirit of dedicated amateurism characteristic of a generation that grew up figuring out how to make creative use of new technologies, the materials of the internet, and digital communication. Rokas’s approach is generally to produce something new by testing out very basic methods with whatever materials she’s drawn to. Both Rokas’s mother and sister are quilters, and she learned by watching them, listening to their stories, and asking questions. Rokas’s work incorporates her lived experience and remixes it with visual references, symbols, and themes drawn from pop culture, literature, and science fiction. In particular, she likes to rework familiar symbols because of their psychological power. The potency of her work comes from her ability to exploit and recontextualize familiar pop culture iconography in ways that unravel seemingly simple imagery. Rokas’s interpretations gravitate toward the uncanny, dealing with alternate realities, twins, doubles, and doppelgangers—the realm of “what if,” “what could have been,” and the just plain weird. And since Rokas never offers a Rosetta Stone to decode the work, the viewer is often left with more questions than answers, and that’s just fine with her.
Laura Rokas graduated in 2016 from the MFA program at the San Francisco Art Institute and in 2013 received a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal. The image of the artist in a wider culture is one of her interests. “My work acknowledges the current superficial way in which artists use social media as a means to create a persona for their audience,” Rokas writes. “Painters must keep up with their ever-changing role by navigating social constructs while remaining faithful to their practice. Although an unabashedly representational painter, I am continually inspired by several different media, allowing them to change my perception of what painting means to me and to contemporary painting as a whole.”