Artist Varion Laurent, a lifelong resident of New Orleans has been immersed in the colorful cultural dynamic of the city as far back as he can remember. As a child, he learned to find beauty in the mundane, as he has always been very observant and aware of his surroundings.
As early as two years old Laurent began drawing, often times, using the furniture of his parents, Dari And Byron Laurent, as his canvas. Having four siblings, Byron, Valencia, Aonika and Sean, taught him early and often the importance of embracing perspectives no matter how they may differ. For Laurent, art has always been a way to both stimulate and liberate his subconscious.
Driven by his desire for attempting to recreate this beauty in his own colorful way, his passion for art grew deeper on a subconscious level.
In 1995 he graduated from St. Augustine High School and was headed off to further his educational background. On a whim, Varion’s parents encouraged him to submit his portfolio to Xavier University’s Art Department. He agreed to do so and was offered a scholarship into Xavier’s Art Program.
It was here at Xavier where Laurent was first formally trained as an artist. He studied under renowned artist John T. Scott and learned to sharpen his greatest tool, his mind. He began painting under tutelage Ron Bechet.
He graduated from Xavier with a Fine Arts degree and began working in the field of broadcast television production. Working in the field of communications allowed Laurent to continue to explore his creative side.
On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit his beloved city of New Orleans. The deluge caused by the levee breaches submerged his Gentilly residence with 7 feet of water, completely destroying Laurent’s entire body of artwork. It was at this point he realized he had no record of any of his past as an artist. It took him just about 2 years before he could even pick up a paintbrush.
During this emotional time span he could not deny the fact that his creative nature was fighting to resurface. Feeling sobered in the fact that everyone in his city was in the same boat he was in, he became inspired to see the city’s rebirth so he began painting once more.
Since Laurent’s decision to dive back into painting, he has garnered a ground swell of support. He was commissioned by the St. Augustine high school alumni association to do a portrait of NBA player, coach Avery Johnson, which was presented to Mr. Johnson at a banquet on his behalf.
From 2008-2010 he was commissioned by the Gentilly neighborhood association to produce the first three posters for the annual Gentilly Festival which has grown tremendously each year. In 2010, Laurent was selected by French Quarter Festivals Inc. as the artist to produce the poster for the 10th Anniversary Satchmo Summer Festival. More recently, Laurent was commissioned as the official poster artist for the 2013 Old Algiers River Festival.
Laurent finds the aesthetic appeal in the cultural fabric of the city. From Second Lines to Mardi Gras to all of the city’s wonderful festivals or just a backyard crawfish boil with family and friends, he sees the charm in all of it.
Varion Laurent considers himself another thread in the city’s rich cultural tapestry. Through his artwork he hopes to continue to spread the city’s colorfulness and resilience through his paintbrush.