Ray Lawler is an award-winning photojournalist, artist, professional geographer, and transportation consultant who directs the modernization of major ports and cargo systems in developing countries.
A Vietnam veteran and former Assistant Director of the Delaware River Port Authority, Lawler has traveled and worked in more than 60 countries. His observations and long-term working relationships in places like Albania, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Haiti, Micronesia, Europe, Africa and Central and South America have allowed him unusual access to the lives of indigenous peoples living and working in these societies.
Lawler uses his camera as a mechanism for producing finished art and as a sketchbook for recording the impressions, ideas, and motifs of the cultures he encounters. He incorporates elements of his sketches and photography into his paintings and other mixed media works.
“My creations focus on three thematic areas,” Lawler explains. “One is transcendental — the exploration of human existence and thought through allegory and illusion. I also want to capture the visual realities of life as it is lived here and abroad. The third is to incorporate the human-animal form in dynamic compositions. These works are created in oils, acrylic, pen & ink, scratchboards, or multi-media.
“Stylistically, my work depends on intense realism and the psychological gesture,” he continues. “Many of the societies I’m portraying are poor, complex, and insular – and the artwork reflects that. “ The range of work includes photorealistic portraiture and murals that celebrates community life. Many are rich in color. “I’ve also explored the inner life of animals in linear, monochromatic compositions on paper, scratchboard, or canvas.”
Over the last several years the artist has been experimenting with multi-canvas portraiture and narrative composition. Narratives involve the combination of multiple panels (of canvas, wood, masonite, etc.) of different
shapes, sizes, and levels that are integrated into a single painting. The artist then tells a story built around a central theme using different media (primarily oils, aqua oils, acrylics, or permanent inks).
Lawler completed a BA and MA in Geography and is also a graduate of the US Navy School of Photography. The artist worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, graphics artist, and photojournalist before settling into his current profession.
He has exhibited at the Saratoga Springs Center for the Performing Arts, NY; the Reading Museum and Google Works in Reading Pa.; The Chester County Chamber of Commerce, and Chester County Art Association. Lawler recently exhibited 25 paintings and drawings at the Unionville Gallery in Unionville Pa. and 20 drawings from around the world at the Crosslands Retirement Center in Chadds Ford, Pa. He also exhibited at a multi artist show in the Agora Gallery in New York from January through April 2010. He has paintings and drawings in a number of private collections in the United States, Italy, France, and Bangladesh.