I'm LAURA BARAN. I live and work in New York City since I moved here from New Jersey in 1996. I’m inspired by courageous people. I think colors tell stories. When I paint, it's about my burning desire to express it all. I'm interested in documenting the way I see myself. I grew up with Holocaust survivor grandparents, an immigrant father, newly religious mother and the death of my sister Rochelle. After my brother Jeff's suicide in 2000, I started painting self portraits. My work was honored by the Society of Illustrators in New York and the Illustration Conference in Philadelphia. I write and perform music in a band called Ross & Laura. I recently created and launched Arts & Dreams (http://artsndreams.blogspot.com), a series of creative, self-esteem building workshops for children.