Thomas More College: Eva G. Farris Gallery
Like A Weed
Like A Weed is a series of portraits inspired by Victorian photography and culture. The work is a personal reflection by the artist, Laura Hartford, on the hopes and fears of parenting and the balance between embrace, entanglement, and release.
Hartford’s staged portraits of her son Jake were created in relation to the artist’s personal investigation of Victorian photography and, by extension, Victorian culture. Exploring dictionaries of Victorian flower language, the artist discovered that moss often served as a symbol of maternal love. Hartford began “planting” her son in her studio, burying him in moss, and then later in dirt, flowers, roots, etc. The Garden became a central metaphor, with nods to both the Christian ideal of purity and the notion of “Mother Nature.”
Hartford is also interested in how women are portrayed in art, literature and popular media, in particular the pervasive metaphors linking the feminine with nature. Many argue that this association creates a dichotomy between the feminine world of empathy and fecundity and the masculine world of analysis and construction, with the fruits of rational (masculine) efforts inevitably more valued than those of the intuitive (feminine). In her studio she creates personal narratives exploring points at which her true maternal instincts are seemingly wildly out of sync with nature. These are virtually unmanipulated photographs. Hartford enjoys working with her hands and while the photographs are output digitally, they are created in the studio using simple materials: lumber, fabric, paint, photographs, plants, and lots and lots of dirt.