About the Artist
Laura Tanner Graham's drawings record the inconsistencies of a society that simultaneously proclaims itself to be “post-racial” and “post-gender” while identifying with a “pull-yourself-up-by-the-boot-straps” mentality. Collaging together historically publicized images – advertisements, campaign posters, newspaper photographs and printed textiles – that parallel our current political and social climates into a singular narrative composition, these drawings document the cyclical and systemic nature of marginalization in America. This work capitalizes on America’s propensity for nostalgia and decorum, luring the viewer into facing these inequities through the detached lens of that which has already happened.
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 Armory during the Art on Paper Fair. She has also been a visiting artist at Tulane University and the University of Alabama. In 2016, Graham was awarded a fellowship and residency at the Ucross Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center. Graham is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Art at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her work is currently represented by the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, LA.
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.