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Arts & Life

Arts | Visual Arts

Hidden Mother by Laura Larson

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Blue Sky Gallery
122 NW 8th Ave.

August 7-31, 2014


For the exhibition Hidden Mother, artist Laura Larson has curated an extensive collection of 19th-century tintypes featuring portraits of children. In each image on display, the mother or caretaker is present, but strategically — if not entirely successfully — concealed from view. Early photographic technology required long exposures for capturing images, which necessitated creative techniques for keeping small children from moving and blurring their portraits. A mother would often remain in the frame as a calming influence, holding her child with a cloth draped over her face or hiding behind props. Sometimes she would stand outside of the image, allowing a single arm to break through the frame to reassure her child. Attempts to remove mothers from view would also take place in post-production, with the use of oval frames or mats centered on the child and blocking the mother. In some instances, the mother’s face could be violently scratched away or painted over on the tintype’s surface. Here, Larson has intentionally presented these small “hidden mother” images in their original, uncropped forms, challenging this erasure of the maternal presence from each frame. She poignantly asks the long-gone photographers, “Why not photograph the mother and child together?”

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Laura Larson's 'Hidden Mother': A Photographic Exhibition