L.A. Habitat is a weekly series that visits with 16 artists in their workspaces around the city.
This week’s studio: Lara Schnitger; Glassell Park, Los Angeles. “We bought this building five years ago,” Lara Schnitger told me one afternoon in her expansive Los Angeles studio. “It was owned by a pavement company. They were driving trucks in here—the floor was really dirty.” The artist’s large industrial space is surrounded by those of other artists; the back of her studio is designated as a workspace for her husband, Matthew Monahan, while the front of the building, once occupied by the pavement company’s offices, now functions as studio space for a handful of artists and designers. “In L.A., there’s not much of a community, so we wanted to create a bit of that. You’re not too alone, but you can be alone if you want to. It’s nice if you ever feel like showing your work to somebody, or if you ever want to talk about it. It’s a great mix of all of us here together.”
Schnitger, originally from Haarlem, the Netherlands, has lived in Los Angeles for 15 years. Within that period of time, Schnitger has noticed a number of changes, including the recent influx of museums and galleries. “There’s a lot more going on now,” she said enthusiastically. One of the benefits to living in the city’s subtropical climate is the omnipresent sunshine, which, besides making for agreeable weather, has helped to curb Schnitger’s electricity bills and carbon footprint. “We put in solar panels recently, which was a nightmare to install, but we’re completely solar-powered now. Because it’s an industrial building, you need to pay in an industrial way. I drive an electric car, which I also charge here. We use a lot of sun energy here. It’s just the way the city works.” Before moving her workspace to Glasell Park, Schnitger maintained a studio on Ford Street, which is located downtown in the city’s Skid Row neighborhood. She tends to maintain a nine-to-five schedule. “My most creative, boldest moves always happen around 2 or 3 p.m. Maybe that’s because I’m warmed up.”
At the time of my visit, Schnitger was working on an installation for the then-upcoming “Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women 1947–2016” show at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel. “I’m not 100 percent sure what I’m doing for the show yet. I might end up working in the space and making a piece within the space,” she said, adding that she always maps out the size of her designated space before beginning new work. “A few of my works are separately made, but the space directs their size.” (Her piece Folie a Deux, crafted from nylon, chopsticks and wood, debuted in the show earlier this year.)
Schnitger was also preparing for a trip to Cambodia the next day. “I’m trying to finish stuff up before I leave. When you’re in the flow of making certain pieces, it’s very hard to pick that up again.” On the other hand, she was looking forward to experiencing a feeling of creative refreshment upon her return. “You’re not cluttered by old ideas. You feel detached from the work that you’re making,” she explained, adding that the trip might cause her to see things in a new way.
Below, a look around Schnitger’s Glassell Park studio.
ALL PHOTOS: KATHERINE MCMAHON