Lauren Grabelle: The States Project: Montana
Lauren Grabelle is an ally—the kind of person who is a champion for her peers. All over our social media photo world, I’ve seen positive signs of Lauren supporting and encouraging other artists. She’s what I would call a “bucket filler”, a giver. Lauren loves Montana, making images, nature, and her Weimaraner, Sugar. Take those loves and you have the backbone of her work. When I was debating which body of Lauren’s work to feature, I was torn between three: Surveilling the West, Dead Things with Sugar, and Strange Days: Woods Bay. Surveilling the West is wrapped in visual western clichés and speaks to Lauren’s experience of living in Montana. Dead Things with Sugar reminded me of how I understand Lauren on social media, photographing her hikes with the dog she loves dearly. After thinking about how those two bodies of work define Lauren, I recognized that Strange Days: Wood Bay was the combination of the two other projects with Sugar and Lauren’s Montana making appearances. It’s a project that makes visual references to curiously eerie woods, heavy on the green, that references David Lynch’s Twin Peaks that our generation was infatuated with in the early 90s. I don’t know much about New Jersey, I have never been there, but I’d like to think that Lauren comes at this project with a Jersey girl sensibility by creating an eerie viewing of nature tinged by feeling of fluorescent lighting. This work is tied to a crime scene—evidence and oddities. It is East Coast meets Northwest Montana. I can hear in this work the buzzing of light fixtures just like Lynch introduced as sound design in Twin Peaks. Somewhere in this body of work, I believe the log lady is waiting to make an appearance, with suggestions of uneasiness lurking in the pollen polluted mustard waters of the lake where logs lay beneath the surface, waiting for someone to reach in and listen. Lauren is listening.
Originally from NJ, Lauren Grabelle moved to Montana to heal the wounds that are created by living in the most densely populated state and being so isolated from nature. Her photography falls in the matrix where fine art and documentary meet; where she can tell truths about our relationships to other people, animals, nature, and ourselves. Her work is about empathy.
A Review Santa Fe 2013 and LOOKbetween/LOOK3 2014 attendee, her work has been exhibited at Blue Sky Gallery, PhotoPlace Gallery, Arthill Gallery London, Newspace Center for Photography, powerHouse Arena, Yellowstone Art Museum, SE Center for Photography, Station Independent Projects, Slideluck @ Photoville, the Montana Triennial at the Missoula Art Museum, and curated online at Humble Arts Foundation, Der Greif, and World Photo Organization among others. Publications include The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. In 2017 Lauren will also be exhibiting work at Colorado Photographic Art Center, Candela Gallery, and Washington State University.
Strange Days: Woods Bay
An odd little town on the border of a great wilderness to the east and the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River to the town’s west. Basically nowhere, with a population of about 660. Where David Lynch meets Cheers: creepy and strange and everyone knows your name.
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Lauren Grabelle: The States Project: MontanaJune 11th, 2017
Patrick Warner: The States Project: MontanaJune 10th, 2017
Matthew Hamon: The States Project: MontanaJune 9th, 2017
Kelsey Weyerbacher: The States Project: MontanaJune 8th, 2017
Christina Z. Anderson: The States Project: MontanaJune 7th, 2017