About the Artist
Laura Tanner Graham's drawings and installations are often discussed as part of the Southern Gothic literary tradition, sharing similar themes with authors such as Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty. As a Georgia native, Graham's work seeks to understand our construction of identity while also questioning contemporary issues of class and gender politics. Her narratives are tightly bound to antebellum traditions while balancing the changing ideals of the new generation of southern society.
Graham received her MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BFA from Florida State University. She has exhibited nationally in both group and solo exhibitions including the Weatherspoon Art Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Athens Institute of Contemporary Art. She has also been a visiting artist at Valdosta State University and Western Illinois University and will be an Artist in Residence at the Ucross Foundation in the Spring of 2016. Graham is currently living and making work in New Orleans, LA and working as an instructor of drawing at Southeastern Louisiana University.
My research explores the history of pattern and printed textiles and the ways in which they reflect social and political movements. Both narrative and non-objective pattern absorb the history of the time they were conceived. They operate as vessels for nostalgia. Textiles, particularly those that are narrative in nature, can also directly reflect the interests of both the owner and the creator through subversive imagery that often emulates propaganda. I borrow much of my imagery from the French toile patterns of the 18th century. These narrative patterns have a rich history in condemning the aristocracy, exposing their fallacies and ridiculing their tyrannical pursuits. I find these narratives especially poignant in today’s turbulent political climate. Adapting traditional characters and settings from these patterns, I construct new narratives that record contemporary accounts of racial, sexual, and gender injustice.
Working with gender and racially charged content in the south can be complicated. I use the decorative and the beautiful as subterfuge, easing viewers into the content through the veil of nostalgia. The collage-like methodology with which the work is created points to the social rules and hierarchies in which delicately constructed and carefully arranged production intentionally alters perception. Pastel targets and altered gendered motifs signal a collective resistance to continued persecution and inequity that plagues the country. With each drawing, I strive to create a continuous narrative that chronicles the Western struggle with diversity in the face of white fragility.