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Laura Petrovich-Cheney

MFA Studio Art

Laura Petrovich-Cheney recently returned from a residency in the Arctic Circle.

The idea for the residency originated from a class she completed as part of the MFA in Studio Art program at Moore.

“In the summer of 2011, while in Jennie Shanker’s "Professional Practice" class, I had to begin an application for a residency as a practice for my professional life as an artist,” she said. “After hours of researching and daydreaming I selected the most adventurous and seemingly improbable residency – one that took place in a 160-foot tall ship that travels the waters in the Arctic Circle.” (www.thearcticcircle.org).

The Arctic Circle is an annual expeditionary residency program. It brings together international artists of all disciplines -- scientists, architects and educators -- who collectively explore remote and fascinating destinations aboard a specially outfitted sailing vessel.

After graduating from Moore, Petrovich-Cheney decided to formally apply for the residency. The only part of the assignment left to complete was to write the project proposal.

“My project for this residency was to walk and only leave footprints – impermanent artifacts in order to remind us that we can explore, engage with and seek out the beauty and mysteries of the natural world, all the while mindful that we are guests and stewards of a planet worth saving for current and future generations to experience,” she said.

Petrovich-Cheney documented her works with a one-word poem, images and video.

The project was partially influenced by Petrovich-Cheney’s experience at the Burren College of Art in Ireland, a required month-long international residency as part of the MFA program.

“I studied the British artist Richard Long and it was his work that inspired my performance piece in the Arctic Circle,” she said. “I feel that without my education at Moore, I would not have had the confidence, skills and resources to apply for that residency.”

Petrovich-Cheney is a full-time practicing, professional artist who lives and works in Asbury Park, NJ. She also maintains  an organic vegetable garden and  flower gardens, a small orchard and several colonies of honeybees.

Her work focuses on resurrecting debris found in the national environment. She upcycles and repurposes washed up boats, hollowed tree trunks, abandoned wasps’ nests, rain water and her honeybees’ wax to create sculptures and mixed media work.

During her walks on her trip to the Arctic, Petrovich-Cheney collected four cases of plastic garbage which she had shipped home for her practice.

“It will be interesting to see what I do with it,” she said. “Probably an installation but maybe a sculpture…”

Petrovich-Cheney graduated from Moore in 2011 as part of the inaugural class of students in the MFA in Studio Art program. She earned her BA from Dickinson College and an MS from Drexel University.

Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues including the George Segall Gallery, Monmouth Museum, Delaware Art Museum and the Shore Institute of Contemporary Art. She is a member of The Sculptors Guild-NYC, a fellow at the A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn and a member of the Philadelphia Sculptors group as well.

In addition, Petrovich-Cheney is a National Board Certified Art Educator working with children from kindergarten to middle school. She presents lectures on art education nationally. 

She said she chose to come to Moore for her MFA degree because of its flexibility, which allowed her to continue to work full time as an art teacher.

“This was a three year, evening and summer intensive program so I could pay my bills,” she said. “I could not afford to quit my job and go to grad school again.”

She said she really enjoyed the close-knit atmosphere of Moore.

“We really became such an intimate group of people and got to know the professors well,” she said. “They had such a huge influence on me. If I had been one of 200, I don’t think I would have felt so special. The experience gave me the confidence to go out into this really challenging world of contemporary arts."