Laura Sanders: Shifting Baselines is on view at Contemporary Art Matters until December 18, 2020. Sanders is a figurative painter whose work explores women in landscape with an interest in the emotional, painterly and political aspects of the mise en scène. Her paintings capture the realistic sense of the figure and the environment, while maintaining a high level of painterly qualities. In Shifting Baselines, feminism and environmentalism are the conceptual fabric of Sanders’ work. She unabashedly addresses the vulnerability of women and nature in our everyday environment. Shifting baselines reflects on how our fundamental values, how we understand the world around us, is changing to allow women to take their rightful place and to better appreciate our natural resources.
By Herself, Armco Park features a figure in the woods looking over her shoulder, both literally and figuratively. In this series By Herself, Sanders intentionally places young women who dare to be alone in the woods, aware of their surroundings and risking potential danger. The artist also explores the play of dappled light coming through the trees as it appears on the body, exposing the natural elements as well as the man-made ones.
By Herself, Defense is an impactful depiction of a plastic water gun casually placed in the hands of a female figure partially hidden from view. The feminine long cotton dress playfully juxtaposed with a toy weapon reminds us there is so always so much more than what meets the eye. In this instance the viewer’s gaze is the most profound, catching a glimpse from behind, alongside the artist commenting on numerous social issues.
Don’t Look features a young woman with her hands covering her face while alone in the woods. Sanders’ compositions work on both the literal and figurative levels. The gesture can be interpreted in many ways as if she is playing a game, hiding from something, shielding herself from the light, from unseen trouble, or exasperated by something.