Laura Christensen

I begin with a not-so-blank canvas: a century-old photographic portrait.

The photograph could have served as an important personal connection: This is my grandmother. There’s our son wearing that hat, remember?

Like family and friends of the depicted, I pay extraordinary attention to each photograph. But with a different eye.

By the time I find them, the chain of personal connections has broken. The object-ness and formal qualities of an old photograph are easier to see. Their subjects are freed to become characters cast and costumed, part of another story.

Contemplating a photograph can trigger an idea. Other times, I am taken by something in the world. Something as profound as death or seemingly banal as waddling chickens. Then I search for pictures and places to further stimulate my imagination and indulge my obsessions.

Working within the confines and possibilities of each photograph, I paint to cancel parts of images and conjure new illusions. I challenge my skills and apply my craft to create a seamless image, a combined object. Past and present, photograph and painting.

Apparitions of the people who posed for a camera are still visible, transformed, and performing fresh scenes of pathos and humor. Handcrafted frames and cabinets with fabric backdrops serve as proscenium for their stage.

With images of moments past, I’ve built new narratives. Theatric, surreal, and mysterious.

Undercover detail cropped
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