With the development of the Pajama Factory as a creative hub, Converge Gallery's opening, and the increased popularity of First Fridays, the area has had more exposure than ever to the wealth of artistic talent in central Pennsylvania. The art programs and galleries at Lycoming and Penn Colleges boast talented painters, sculptors, photographers and digital artists both on staff and on the walls, but illustrators don't have as strong a local presence as other, more "traditional" art forms.
Illustrator Laura Knorr has returned to the area after many years away and isn't hesitating to add her voice to the local art scene. "I visited here last July and ... had a light bulb moment of 'I need to come home.' The urge was so strong, I couldn't ignore it any longer. I moved back last October and have been very, very happy to be home," she wrote in an email interview.
Knorr was born in Berwick and graduated from Bloomsburg High School. She went on to study at Ringling College of Art where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in illustration.
Pictured, from the children's book 'The Twelve Days of Christmas,' is Laura Knorr's illustration, 'Calling Birds.'
"I always knew I wanted to pursue a career as an artist. I have always been an artist and there was never a doubt I would do some form of art throughout my life," she said.
After seeing Knorr's work on the Pajama Factory's website, the Community Theatre League's (CTL) Robyn Richards reached out to the illustrator to discuss the possibility of displaying Knorr's work in the CTL's lobby. This will be the artist's first time displaying work at the CTL.
It's not surprising that Knorr's work stood out to Richards; it's as whimsical and colorful as it is sophisticated. Her illustrations are the type you imagine you'd find in books kids want to come back to again and again, and that parents want to be sure they have in hardcover, for posterity's sake.
The titles Knorr has illustrated include "K is for Keystone: A Pennsylvania Alphabet Book" by Kristan Kane (Sleeping Bear Press), "The Twelve Days of Christmas" by Helen Hale (Zonderkidz), "P is for Pelican: A Louisiana Alphabet Book" by Anita Prieto, "The Legend of Papa Noel" by Terri Dunham Hoover, "A Isn't for Fox" by Wendy Ulmer, "Zero, Nada, Zilch" by Wendy Ulmer, "Little Louisiana" and "Little Georgia" (all from Sleeping Bear Press).
"I haven't had the opportunity to illustrate my own children's book, although it's certainly on my artistic bucket list," Knorr said, adding "I've really enjoyed illustrating authors' manuscripts and working with a publisher. Being an artist is not always a singular artistic experience and working on a children's book gives you the opportunity to learn about the business of art and publishing."
Knorr said that her initial inspirations came from the "Golden Age" of illustration; artists like "N.C. Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker, Maxfield Parrish, Dean Cornwell, Arthur Rackham and old Walt Disney animated films ... My dad gave me old magazines from the 1940s and 50s and I would love to look at the illustrations," she said. As an adult, Knorr said that she's "inspired by classic and modern artists alike." She mentioned "Greg Manchess, Gary Kelley, Lisbeth Zwerger, James Gurney, N. Ascencios, [and] Gennady Spirin."
Inspiration also comes in other forms, Knorr explained. "We're inspired by everyone and everything around us, past and present. I am most inspired by the things and people I love. When I pay attention to my most honest and pure emotions, I create my best work. Even the most mundane thing can be visually appealing and I find myself seeing color and uniqueness in everything around me."
Laura Knorr's work is currently on display in the lobby of the Community Theatre League, 100 W. Third St. You can reach the box office weekdays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. by calling 570-327-1777 or find out more online at www.ctlnet.org or www.facebook.com/pages/Community-Theatre-League.
See more of Laura Knorr's work online or contact her by visiting www.lauraknorr.com or finding her on Facebook.