Laura Christensen

I collect vintage portraits to use in my art. Photographers created these sepia toned and subtle black and white images when clients posed before a camera, and a shutter opened and closed, over a century ago.

Today, many of these cabinet cards and snapshots are boxed up in attics and basements, perhaps even your own, and in antiques and thrift stores.

I find and alter original photographic objects in by painting directly onto the surfaces of old photographs.

I partner with the whole thing, the photograph as a century-old object, as well as the poignant appearances of past lives. I understand how the people are likely now dead, but their image from that moment continues to exist, like the delayed rays of a star. I study surface shapes and tones written by light and chemical reactions, patterns alluding to specific people and unique gestures and expressions. I explore composition and texture. I notice bends in the paper, faded sections of an image. I imagine hints of stories, fantasies, and dreams.

I paint to cancel parts of images and conjure additional illusions of possible and impossible scenarios, things a camera did not, or could not have recorded.

The altered photographs present seamless, yet unexpected combinations of past and present, object and image, photograph and painting.