Laya Crust grew up in Winnipeg, Canada and later moved to Toronto. Laya studied design at the University of Manitoba and studied drawing, painting and printmaking at The Three Schools of Art and at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. She has also studied with world-renowned artists and calligraphers including Donald Jackson, Reggie Ezell, Leona Faye, and Davis Moss. She also took classes in Jewish Studies at the University of Manitoba, in Toronto, and in Jerusalem studying with Aviva Zorenberg, Rachel Turkienicz, and Rabbi Benjamin Hecht among others. 

Laya works mainly with paint and inks on paper. She has been commissioned by major institutions such as: Universities, hospitals, and private institutions to design gifts, which have been presented to major philanthropists. Her work is in private collections around the world. 

She also works in a variety of media including: fabric, glass, clay, and silver. As well as hundreds of original ketuboth, she has created unique books, C.D. covers, and ceremonial objects. She has also worked on major pieces which have been installed in buildings throughout the world. A collaborative window design has been installed in the Union of Reform.

Judaism in Manhattan, N.Y., a glass wall mosaic is in a home in Jerusalem. Her Torah mantles are in synagogues in the United States and Canada.

Laya and her husband live in Toronto and have six children.

ARTIST'S STATEMENT

Creation. It’s an overwhelming concept. As we journey through a day the things we see, hear, touch, taste, smell and feel change from moment to moment and we are altered. We can be elevated by the beauty around us or put into despair because of the pain, suffering and destruction around us. But the most important thing is to be aware and receptive to the nature, humanity and the creations around us. 

What I try to do through my art is to touch people’s minds and emotions. When I design a piece, I try to find the source and soul of the work. I love to research the background of a piece and introduce images that connect the theme with history, geography, and spirituality. 

Whether working on a ketubah, painting designs for a 5’ x 6’ window, interpreting a story from the bible, or designing a fundraising piece, I work to uncover the essence of the message. In that way I can talk to the soul of the viewer.