Laura Sanders is a figurative painter whose work explores women in landscape with an interest in the emotional, painterly and political aspects of the mise en scène. Her paintings capture the realistic sense of the figure in the environment, while maintaining a high level of painterly qualities. Feminism and environmentalism are the conceptual fabric of Sanders’ work. She unabashedly addresses the vulnerability of women and nature in our everyday environment. In her 2020 solo show, Shifting Baselines, she reflects on how our fundamental values, how we understand the world around us, is changing to allow women to take their rightful place and to better appreciate our natural resources.
Sanders’ latest series By Herself, is a body of work that confronts ideals of the role and places of where women belong, along with their individual environmental impact on their surroundings. By placing women in the woods, Sanders takes charge of where women are viewed as safe, venturing beyond our ideas of how our systems are measured as they take center stage against nature, tattooed by light, engulfed by shifting trees.
In Victorine By Herself, Sanders’ boldly reinterprets Manet’s Le Dejeuner sur l’Herbe replacing the nude prostitute with a fully clothed Victorine, eliminating the men whose presence defined her. The plastic basket replaces the organic nature of a 19th century picnic basket, underscoring the lasting implications plastic has on the 21st century and beyond.
By Herself, Glen Echo Ravine, shows a woman in the woods, standing strong, armed with a large rock in hand, looking over her shoulder to confront the viewer. She is prepared and unafraid to claim her right to be there.
Through oil paint, Sanders intuitively handles the physicality of her medium by bringing her subjects and their territory to life. Sanders considers the reciprocal quality of the relationship to the environment and reflects upon the relationship of nature physically and psychologically. This makes us question the impact we make on our own environment, and yearning to understand what future implications are hiding underneath the beauty of the woods and of the female figure.
Sanders describes her process as painting “directly in oil, wet on wet, using the materiality of the paint to create a visceral sense of light and form that feels empirical, yet maintains the physicality of the paint. From a distance, the paint coalesces into an almost photo-realistic image.” She is absolutely unique in her ability to achieve a trompe l’oeil realism while simultaneously maintaining a loose, gestural paint style.
Laura Sanders received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio in 1988. She has received several grants and awards including the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and most recently artist residency at the Headlands for the Arts, Sausalito, California. Her works are in numerous private and public collections including the Columbus Museum of Art. She currently lives and works in Long Island City, NY and Columbus, Ohio.