Lori Van Houten

My current work consists of large photo-based works on paper. Each print incorporates nature-based photographs produced in camera, combined with selected found imagery to form each multi-layered piece. The work is produced by computer and consists of a complex layering and interacting of images and involves a continual back and forth process of erasing and adding to achieve the final whole.

Each piece begins with an underlying image which is generally formed from several related images photographed at the same site. The underlying image is chosen for it’s basic forms and color and often suggests the final feeling of the piece although often all three elements are obscured by the time the work is complete. The underlying photomontage is covered with a textile image that serves as both a concealing and revealing element in the process. These layers are in turn combined with layers of additional photographs, fragments of photographs, herbarium samples and other imagery all interacting to form the final piece.

The fabrics are selected for their depiction of botanical subjects and come from historical periods when this work flourished. Some of the series such as Stained Silks include fabrics of the 13th c. from the regions bordering the silk routes. Field Notes incorporates western lace imagery. The herbarium samples generally come from the same regions as the textiles and are often manipulated and used for the purposes of “drawing” on and in the composition. The selection of the various elements and images is both research and the structure on which each piece is built.

Photo of Lori Van Houten

Raptors and Songbirds


Raptors and Songbirds, my most recent series of multi-panel photographic works, alludes to the long tradition of storytelling as a means of understanding human experience. Stories suggest ways to interpret mysteries and provide the necessary tales for survival. In particular, fairy tales have long been a rich source, often employing divine powers and other supernatural characters to pass down relevant life experiences. This series flirts with the methods of the fairy tale; seducing with color and beauty while using flora and fauna as cautionary messengers.


I photograph and create libraries of images then used to form narratives; similar in structure to words building a sentence. My goal is not to tell a complete tale but to suggest phrases or fragments of sentences over heard in passing. There is an urgency to understanding the message although the story may not be entirely clear.


All of the photographs in the Raptors and Songbird series are made with modified Polaroid cameras. I use the attributes of instant film to record motion, alter color and provide a slightly skewed vision. The film is scanned with high resolution and printed on Moab Entrada rag paper. Each triptych is 13” x 38” including border, printed in an edition of 5 with 2 artist proofs.



Crowns


This series of sculptures was made simultaneously with the photographic triptychs, Raptors and Songbirds. Using an imaginary world of flora and fauna as cautionary messengers, Raptors and Songbirds tells stories for and about young women. The sculptures suggest an audience for these stories. Appearing to be headgear or crowns for girls, each is preserved under glass, and appears to have a history. Made from unglazed porcelain, textiles, and other mixed materials, the crowns are delicate yet strong, beautiful but vacant and convey stories of their own.



Stained Silk


Field Notes


With pleasure and regret


Borderline


New World Narratives