The vast grasslands of Illinois, where I grew up, always trigger a sense of space for me. Waves of wind rolling across the tall grass prairies, the small nesting spaces of animals, and our own human spaces in limbo—all are charged with specific energy and light. In the parklands around the city, I feel a close connection with place and location as a human animal, an artist, and filmmaker. My work explores the dissonance and harmony between biological spaces and artificial, or human created objects. Plastics, recycled trash, an old deer bone or a lost baseball mitt are as common as dandelions. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes dangerous, we bathe in these newly decorated landscapes: what are we to make of such places?
My practice as an artist is conceptually based—my work is ignited by questions. I choose specific and varied media to fit the questions, and to best bring these ideas into the known world. Art materials—which can include just about everything—are part of my magician’s toolbox: each piece of fabric, paint tube, and object in it has the possibility of evoking—or becoming—something else. Right now my work is centered in green spaces, both urban and wild. Our human interactions in those green spaces fuel the questions I ask in my work.
LAURA LITTEN: In the Galleries,
Sunday September 21,2014
BY MARK JENKINS
Although it’s titled “The Bellini Project,” after the 15th-century Italian painter, Laura Litten’s Studio Gallery show includes much nature imagery. All the pictures are landscapes in an extreme horizontal format, and all but one (an oil painting) meld watercolor, gouache, ink and pencil. The Chicago-forged D.C. artist uses clean colors and delicate lines to depict a whale, a pelican, a snail and some rabbits, which enter the scenes in a gently uncanny manner. Whether placed in a center panel or around the edges, the creatures are as incongruous as the inorganic objects Litten also inserts: telephones, a piano, an airplane and metal pipes and bolts. The artist writes that these juxtapositions were inspired by the strangeness of Bellini’s “Madonna and Child,” but others may think of surrealism.