Every month, Creative Gateways celebrates their resident artists with an honored focus on each person’s new works, source of inspiration, talent, and origin story. This month we are excited to turn the spotlight on illustrator Laura Hines…
For the past decade, Laura Hines has made work that has drawn from both her background in natural illustration and her various personal interests. Some of the biggest themes that she has developed over the years involve history, unique but unknown people, and animals as metaphors. For her upcoming exhibition “Resurrection of Memory,” she takes a creative step forward in how she explores and conveys these themes.
Stories never told
“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”
– Marcus Tullius Cicero
The subjects of Laura’s pieces have always been of great importance to her, as has the context through which she finds them. This is seen with incredible clarity in her newest work. “All of the people I’m using come from photos taken in very old photo booths,” she explains. “They’re all really compelling, even though they’re also normal people – they’re not models or anything.” Those types of people, in that type of setting, provide another layer of interest for Laura. “They all have very honest poses. They’re typically not mugging for the camera or anything. There’s a vulnerability and sincerity that you don’t really get in a more ‘professional’ setting.”
Like in much of her other work, the limited information surrounding these subjects is actually a point of attraction for Laura. She has a strong affinity for the forgotten stories of history, and loves the idea of resurrecting them through her own personal lens of creativity. “I like trying to create a new and individual visual narrative for these people of the past – people whose true personal biographies were pretty much lost to time.”
How to build a memory
Over the years, Laura has developed several techniques for crafting these narratives in a visual medium. For her newest pieces, she’s developed a couple more. Firstly, many of her pieces are rendered partially or fully in their photo negative. “From just a technical standpoint, having a negative version of the photos helps for clarity. The photos are old, so some of the features on the people’s faces get lost in shadow. The negatives help bring them out.” But that is not the only reason Laura decided to incorporate this element – it also had thematic resonance. “The negatives create a very ghostly image that I think is great for capturing the feeling of memory. It’s also representative of this type of other side of these people that we don’t really have access to.”
Another technique involves Laura using a completely new type of canvas: wood. “I’ve never drawn on wood before. I was nervous at first, but I’ve really grown to love it. There’s something nice about working with such an organic material. The texture and grain really accentuates the feeling of nostalgia that I’m trying to incorporate.” Although they may look completely homogeneous at first glance, each wood canvas is actually unique. “It mirrors the subjects of the pieces in a very subtle way.”
Lastly, Laura has included an animal presence in much of her new work – a motif she is no stranger to. “They’re not just there as decoration. They have a relation to the spirit of these subjects, and hopefully help expand that narrative element. I guess you could call them ‘representational animals.'” And without a doubt, these animal subjects are just as engaging as their human counterparts.
The past on display
Laura’s newest work will be on prominent display from April 20th through April 22nd, as part of Creative Gateways newest exhibit “Resurrection of Memory: Spotlight on Laura Hines.” Join us at the opening reception, Friday, April 20th, from 5-8pm. Meet Laura and the rest of our resident artists, explore the studios where they work, and enjoy small bites and wine!