Laura Letinsky - Tableware and Ceramic Plates
Laura Letinsky
Laura Letinsky

Laura Letinsky

Chicago, IL

Throughout her career, Laura Letinsky has engaged with the fundamental question of what precisely constitutes a photograph. Investigating photography’s relationship with reality, Letinsky began by photographing people but shifted to focusing almost exclusively on objects in the form of the still life. Her large-scale, carefully crafted scenes often focus on the remnants of a meal or party, as she plays with ideas about perception and the transformative qualities of the photograph.

For one of her earlier, long-term series, Hardly More Than Ever (1997-2004), Letinsky arranged and photographed leftover food and used crockery, along with various objects such as vases or fruit bowls. Thinking of the photographs in this series as observations of overlooked or forgotten details and remnants of daily existence, Letinsky ultimately transforms this refuse into a subject worthy of close study - objects of real beauty. Her more recent series Ill Form & Void Full (2010-2014), explores the tension between material and image, as Letinsky extracts elements from already existing imagery in magazines of food and domestic wares, calling attention to the constructed nature of all photographs.

Letinsky was born in 1962 in Winnipeg, Canada. She received her BFA from the University of Manitoba in 1986, and MFA from Yale University’s School of Art in 1991. Letinsky has held teaching positions at a number of prestigious American colleges, and since 1994 she has been a Professor in the Department of Visual Art at the University of Chicago.
Q&A

What is your favorite material to work with?

"Anything toxic to me or the environment as well as non-recylables..."
-- Laura Letinsky
Q&A

What do you want people to do or feel when they encounter your creations?

"To feel their body as sensorial entity such that they eyes' connection to the hands is felt, as well as synaesthetic empathy of the mouth, nose, and ears."
-- Laura Letinsky
Q&A

What motivates and inspires you?

"Starlings riding the wind; the luminescence of the lake against the soon-to-be but still dark blue sky of dawn; the collapse of low into high or the other way 'round."
-- Laura Letinsky
Q&A

What makes a space special?

"Depends on the space, of course, but for most places, it's when the personality and idiosyncrasy of those in the space is considered and felt. This can be a mash up of low-cost pre-fab, hand-me-downs, as well as carefully chosen investment objects, but a sense of a person is infinitely preferable to the antiseptic or the austere."
-- Laura Letinsky
Q&A

What’s unique about your work?

"Care and attention to how the categories of the personal and the social are not mutually exclusive, with emphasis on resuscitating the objects and spaces that often get overlooked despite, or perhaps because of their essential value."
-- Laura Letinsky
Q&A

How do your pieces come to life? Tell us one interesting thing about your creative process?

"I never want to know what the picture is going to look like before I make it."
-- Laura Letinsky
Q&A

What funny moments, unexpected surprises, or obstacles have you encountered?

"Daylight."
-- Laura Letinsky
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