Welcoming scene: Local artists promote connection with community, other artists

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Since purchasing their Zionsville studio in 2021, artists Laura LaForge and Amy Carroll have truly embraced the open-door concept, not only by inviting the public into their studio space, but also by encouraging other artists to join the community.

“We stumbled upon the studio space when we were looking in Zionsville,” LaForge said. “When we saw there were no doors, we were just a little hesitant about the idea at first, then we realized it could be cool to have people come up whenever they wanted.”

LaForge and Carroll were members of The Stutz Artists Association in Indianapolis but left after The Stutz building changed ownership in 2021. The artists, who had both previously held the title of board president of the association, developed a friendship that inspired their decision to look for a studio space they would share.

LaForge, who works as an artist full-time, said she and Carroll fell in love with Zionsville and are attempting to seize the opportunity to create an environment where artists can have a more open and transparent relationship with the community.

“We would love to see Zionsville become known as an artists’ community in Indiana,” LaForge said. “We love the people in Zionsville, and we think it would be a nice marriage to include more artists (in the community) as well, so we are really trying to plant seeds for that.”

The artists said their friendship started at The Stutz but has blossomed since they began working in their Zionsville studio.

“Even though you’re both selling art, you don’t have to be competitive with each other,” Carroll said. “I think that’s the most amazing thing about our relationship. We have such different art that we never feel like we’re competing. Our different styles appeal to different kinds of people.”

Carroll, who also works at the organization Noble of Indiana, works with a combination of ceramics and canvas to paint floral scenes, while LaForge creates depictions of strong women and people that inspire her, experimenting with an array of mediums and bright colors.

Their studio space, above Blooms by Dragonfly on Main Street, is completely accessible to the public as there are no doors to the stairs to the studio.

Carroll and LaForge said they have grown to enjoy the company of the people who visit them in the studio. They said it gives them an opportunity to share their work with the public while also giving others the chance to participate in the creative process.

“I’ve had adults sit down and have wine and watch me while I paint and ask me questions. I’ve even let them put paint on the canvas,” LaForge said. “I love it, and I think they do, too. It just seems to break down those walls and (make) the world a little bit brighter.”

LaForge said she enjoys showing people how to work with different mediums, including gunpowder, which she has used in many of her pieces.

“We’re trying to do something new with our studio that we haven’t seen anywhere before,” LaForge said. “We want people to be able to come into a professional artist’s working studio and see what it’s actually like.”

LaForge said she and Carroll are attempting to connect other local artists with the Zionsville community by collaborating with area businesses and nonprofits to organize an art show on Main Street. Most of all, the artists said their goal is to support Zionsville and the art community through their work.

“I’m amazed how open minded (the people of Zionsville) are to new ideas,” LaForge said. “I also love how businesses are willing to work together and listen to creative ideas. It’s amazing how much everyone can work together and listen to one another.”

Getting to know the artists

Where are they from?

LaForge: Wisconsin

Carroll: Missouri

What inspires their art?

LaForge: “I always have a positive message in my paintings. When I see someone connect to one of my paintings, that inspires me and is the backbone for my passion.”

Carroll: “The emotions and feelings of experiences and memories are my inspiration. Just close your eyes and think of the last time you saw flowers, saw clouds over an Indiana field, or smelled lilacs blooming. That feeling you get when you remember that moment, that is my inspiration.”

What is their artistic style?

LaForge: Contemporary

Carroll: Impressionistic

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