August 15, 2012 - Since graduating from Clarkston High and Cranbrook Academy of Art, artist Laura Ginn's photography and video work has been displayed in Detroit and Atlanta, but her exhibition in New York City is one of a kind.
A self-portrait of Laura Ginn shows off her animal-skinning skills. Photo provided (click for larger version)
It opened on July 25 with an elegant dinner at the Allegra LaViola Gallery, and "the main ingredient was rat in all the dishes," Ginn said.
That's right, rat, the furry trash scavenger you see scurrying at night. Ginn chose to include rats in her dinner because she seeks to reconnect people with their primal beginnings.
Ginn's taste for rodents didn't end with her exhibition's opening night menu; the dress she wore to dinner was made of rat pelts. From her point of view, using squirrels, rabbits, and raccoons in art represents a world that's become unfamiliar in contemporary life.
Her exhibition titled, "Tomorrow We Will Feast Again On What We Catch" is inspired by the skills Ginn has learned since earning her Master of Fine Arts. Ginn is interested in survivalism, so she's been studying shelter building, hunting, trapping, and leather making.
"The things you need to survive on a basic level," Ginn explained.
The primal skills Ginn has honed and used in her photography and videos "are disappearing from our repertoire," she said.
Ginn hopes to pass those skills along because they are "fundamental to the way we interact with the physical world."
Although her art captures skills many associate with our primitive past, Ginn's motives are fueled by the present day.
She hopes to "empower people who have to deal with economic anxiety" through her art, Ginn said. She may be in New York City, but Ginn hasn't forgotten the impact of the nation's economic downturn on Michigan.
Both Ginn's home state and hometown have been inspirations for her work. In fact, one of her landscape photographs features Depot Park. She is also thankful for the encouragement she received from her Clarkston Junior High Art teacher, Claudia Keglovitz.
"I remember her creative, original ideas," said Keglovitz of Ginn's art when she was a student.
Keglovitz recalls how young Laura Ginn would practice and learn "on her own at home." Even in seventh grade, Ginn's art was "more sophisticated" than her peers, and she was "never at a loss for ideas," said Keglovitz.
"I'm so pleased to hear of a Clarkston grad making it in the art world against the odds," said Keglovitz of Ginn's success, and her art teacher isn't the only one who feels proud.
Michele Ginn, Laura's mother, is "thrilled for her. She's been working on this for a long time," she said.
Michele is so impressed with her daughter's dedication to her art that she's agreed to fully embrace it by tasting rat.
"When she gets back here, we plan to try it," said Laura's mom with a laugh.
Michele is looking forward to seeing her daughter in the next couple of months but seems less enthusiastic about the meal they'll share together.
Luckily for the rest of us, eating rodents isn't required to enjoy Laura Ginn's art, her photos, drawings, and videos are featured on her website at www.lauramaeginn.com.
Clarkston News reporter