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Revealing Emotion, Revealing Bodies: Laura Ho Finds Muse in Painted Nudes

Local artist Laura Ho's unique portrayal of women is catching the eye of the Bay Area art world.

Laura Ho is not a nudist, she just likes to draw and paint naked women.

“It’s not that I don’t like clothes,” she said. “I like making art as a representation of a natural state of being. And you’re in your truest state when you don’t have any clothes on.”

The 20-year-old artist also paints her naked subjects in pairs. But before you start your naked twin fantasies, know that Ho’s works aren’t always a pretty picture.

In one painting, a sleeping girl’s hair fans out into octopus tentacles. In another, a woman reaches out of the painting, her nose bleeding. Then there’s the woman vomiting flowers amidst black splotches of paint.

“I don’t intend to be dark, it just comes out that way,” she said.

Ho is one of more than 20 artists featured in &THEM Collective's  exhibit at San Francisco's Hotel Des Arts, a hotel that features rooms painted by nationally renowned artists.

The exhibit opens May 19 and runs through July. It features the works of several Union City artists, including Cristine Blanco, Wayne Chan, Gunwoo Pak, Bryant Sina and Union City Patch contributor Paciano Triunfo.

Ho attended the art group’s , where she introduced herself to Francis Ramos, a Union City resident and curator with &THEM.

Ramos knew he had to have her in the show after seeing her work, he said.

“There’s a lot of emotion that exudes through her pieces,” he said. “You can see through the subjects' faces that there’s a lot of time and effort put into the piece.”

Ho’s work has earned her comparisons to contemporary artists like Irana Douer, Stella Hultberg and Audrey Kawasaki, who also take a darker approach when visualizing women.

“I grew up drawing girls very pretty and fantasy-like,” said Ho, who started  to create art a young age by drawing Japanese anime characters.

The 2009 James Logan High School graduate’s style has radically evolved since her early days, she said, although her work remains rooted in the female form.

“There’s a lot of curves, there’s a lot of flow and movement; not a lot of corners and angles in my paintings that you see in masculine subjects,” said Ho, who primarily uses acrylics or watercolor and ink. “That femininity is really about the flow of the subjects. I didn’t realize it when I was younger, I just liked the movement.”

It wasn’t until high school that she started to take art seriously, Ho said. Taking art classes at Logan, she was introduced to modern and contemporary women artists, from whom she drew inspiration. She went on to create her own style, one that’s both beautiful and dark. 

“I think that darkness resonates in all of us,” she said. “We all have dark experiences … I’m a happy person, it’s just that I choose to paint it [darkness] because it needs to be expressed.”

Laura Ho’s work is featured in &THEM’s Chutes and Ladders exhibit, on display May 19 through July. For more information on Ho and her work, visit http://lauraho.tumblr.com.

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