The Mylio Grant - Laura J. Bennett - Auburn, California Grant Amount $2,500 USD I was awarded The Mylio Grant through The Luminous Endowment for Photographers in 2015 for a research project about my grandmother titled, Elsa Johanna. Elsa emigrated from Finland in 1925 through Ellis Island, living her life as a domestic worker in New York City. She gave birth to my father … [Read more...]
Laura J. Bennett My work as an artist has always addressed some aspect of the female experience. As a mother of nine, I spent many years moving to the rhythm of others. My early work captures that sweet chaos. During that time, I shot 35mm film and used a Pentax K1000. I went back to school and slowly but surely earned BA degrees in Photography and Journalism from Humboldt State University. It took eight years. My MFA is from the University of Houston, where I was challenged by my professor to turn the camera around to face myself, because that is "the more interesting story." That wasn't easy. For three years, I investigated the terrain of the female form. Like Ana Mendieta, I found it to be a malleable landscape - a place where the climate of personal history makeshifts the soil to create a unique topography. My work Infectious Myth emerged from this concept of a feminine biological topography. It addresses the complexities of the transitory nature of the female condition and the "masks" we must wear and pass down through generations. It was awarded a grant through the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund as well as the first Hungry's Grant in Houston, Texas. The series, Dames of Anatomy combines glass negatives of nameless women with medical ephemera to form new biological narratives. It won first place in the 5th Annual Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Portraiture, with a culminating group exhibition in Malaga, Spain. Selected images were also in the group exhibition Thrive at Diverse Works Gallery in Houston, curated by Mary Ross Taylor and reviewed by Lucy Lippard. My current project, Elsa Johanna, is a photo-based documentary about my grandmother who emigrated from Finland in 1925 and gave birth to my father out of wedlock. It's a complex story close to my heart and a compelling tale of a strong immigrant woman. It was awarded The Mylio Grant through the Luminous Endowment for Photographers in 2015. The award enabled me to visit Finland and meet family I never knew I had. Recently, I was awarded the SÍM Residency in Iceland and will be there in September of 2017. Although I enjoy playing with vintage, pinhole and plastic cameras, I shoot the majority of my work with a Hassy and an aging 8 x 10 Gundlach. I have always shot film. The photographer Robert Adams said, "You can remember things in your hands, and you can know things with your hands that you can't know with your head." I couldn't have said it better.