Laura Jemison, Wingwash, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches.


Piece of Work: Laura Jemison

“I have a great sense of humor. That is what has always kept me afloat. And I think, oftentimes, you can see it in my work.”

I have a great sense of humor. That is what has always kept me afloat. And I think, oftentimes, you can see it in my work.

Laura Jemison feels most at home when she is surrounded by a community of artists. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she spends winters, it’s at various studios located in old flour mills where she draws and paints with friends. On Island – she summers on Chappaquiddick – it’s with the folks of the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association (MVAA), of which she has been a member for about seven years and serves on the board. “It’s great to be a part of a tribe and have your people,” she said.

The MVAA, which operates out of the historic Old Sculpin Gallery in Edgartown, hosts various art exhibitions throughout the summer season. In a nod to the location’s past use as a boatbuilder’s shed, this July it will host a show dedicated to catboats and the gallery’s namesake – boatbuilder Manuel S. Roberts, who was known to his friends as “the Old Sculpin.”

Although Jemison’s favorite subjects to paint are still lifes, she jumped at the opportunity to explore a subject she had rarely painted when this particular show’s theme was announced. She searched the internet for an image on which to base her painting and settled on one of catboats racing. “I made a sketch…and I really tried to work in and hone my skill with values,” she said. To make it her own, Jemison added the people and the iconic cabanas of the Chappaquiddick Beach Club.

The painting, pictured at left and titled Wingwash, was selected as the main image for the poster highlighting the summer show. Prior to the opening of the exhibit on July 16, there will be a catboat parade in Edgartown Harbor. “I think [Wingwash] personified what they would like the spirit of the event to be,” she said.

“The process of planning for the catboat sailing parade and the gallery events have been very energizing and positive,” said Jemison. “I think that acted as a catalyst to make a piece that resonated with that happy, positive energy among my community tribe. For me, only when I make a connection with the subject matter am I able to make a successful piece.”

To view more of Jemison’s work, visit the Old Sculpin Gallery in Edgartown or go to