An Interview with Lauren Grabelle

Lauren Grabelle is an exhibiting artist in Imminent Existence, Photolucida‘s Critical Mass TOP 50 (2022). On view at the PCNW gallery from March 30 – June 4, 2023.

Lauren Grabelle (b.1965, Long Branch, NJ, lives in Bigfork, MT)

Rebirth, 2019

Digital C-print (w/spray protective coating)

Edition 1 of 3

Image 12 x 16 inches, framed to 13.5 x17.5 inches

$900 (for purchase inquiry, please contact Erin at espencer@pcnw.org)

Please tell us about yourself and which part of the world you currently reside.

Originally from NJ, I moved to Montana to heal the wounds that are created by living in the most densely populated state and being so isolated from nature. My photography falls in the matrix where fine art and documentary meet, where I can tell truths about our relationships to other people, animals, nature, and ourselves. My work is about empathy.

My photographs have been included in exhibitions in galleries across the US and Europe, and in 2018 at Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai, UAE. In 2021 my series, The Last Man, was recognized by LensCulture as a winner in the international photo competition HOME ’21, and then in 2022 as a Critical Mass TOP 50 winner. In 2022 Ken Burns included one of my photos in his book Our America A Photographic History. Other projects have been featured in print and online in Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, High Country News, Humble Arts Foundation, Der Grief, Lenscratch, World Photo Organization, and others, as well as selected by jury for inclusion in American Photography 10, 17, & 36.

I am an Adobe Stock Premium contributor, a member of Women Photograph, and a photo editor for The Whitefish Review. Editorial work is represented by Redux Pictures. I am also a board member of the Community Association for North Shore Conservation – organizing to preserve the wildness and wondrousness of Flathead Lake.

When did you first discover your love of photography?

In kindergarten when I got my Kodak Instamatic. Before marrying my father, my mother was a studio assistant to the acclaimed portrait and glamour photographer, Peter Basch, and she continued her passion for photography by photographing her family. I got the love of photography from her.

Please tell us about the individual piece that was selected to be included in the exhibit. Also, tell us a bit about the body of work that this is from.

Rebirth is one of the first images I shot for my series, The Last Man, which I began in 2019. I continued shooting through the pandemic while living in a magical yet isolated part of Montana with grizzly bears, wolves, moose, and mountain lions, and of course The Last Man. To maintain the land, which is beneath the mountains and up against the forest, the land has to be managed which includes logging and making firewood out of windblown trees. Rebirth was shot from under the root wad of a very large tree that had fallen and had pulled up some of the earth with it. 

Is it your intention to have your artwork bring attention to any current social issues? 

Not necessarily, but I have noticed a lack of effort by many to understand the issues faced by rural people and landowners – which includes the need to protect oneself when a call to 911 might mean waiting for a minimum of 30 minutes to get help, and how raising cattle and other grazers to eat helps keep the forest and predators away from one’s house. I have joked that this series, The Last Man, is about a gun-loving, meat eating white man on stolen native land (his grandfather traded with the Blackfeet) when I have gone to portfolio reviews. I do understand how it seems not in line with what many artists are focused on currently, but I am a firm believer that everyone’s story is important and this just happens to be the story I am living now.

Who / what are your biggest influences?

I became passionate about photography and what it could be when I became exposed to the works of Larry Clark and Nan Golden in the 1980’s. I think though that visually I have been most influenced by David Lynch. Currently the natural world, the earth, and its creatures are most in line with my inner landscape.

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