Laura Millard: Crossing

Saturday, February 2, 2019 - 10:00am to Sunday, April 7, 2019 - 5:00pm

Laura Millard creates large drawings in the landscape using skates and snowmobiles on frozen lakes. The tracks and patterns are photographed from above by a drone and then printed on rag paper or fabric. The fabric images are mounted onto recyclable aluminum frames and back lit with LED lighting.

With the lake the primary drawing surface, shifting winter temperatures allow earlier drawing traces to slightly sink. As a fresh layer of ice and snow form on top, a new set of tracks are imprinted, creating depth and unity to the otherwise singular images. Animals randomly and unwittingly contribute contrasting markings to Millard’s purposefully sledded drawings.

Laura Millard has engaged with the language of drawing and gesture in relation to the landscape, while questioning the traces our actions leave behind. She creates large drawings in the landscape using a snowmobile on frozen lakes. The tracks and patterns are often animated with a leaf blower and a snow thrower to create veils of glistening crystals. Photographed from above by a drone, the images are then printed on rag paper or fabric. In her studio, Millard enhances her paper images with graphite and watercolour, while the fabric images are printed with water-based ink to complete these strikingly unexpected images. The fabric images are mounted onto recyclable aluminum frames and backlit with LED lighting.

Yet, for this environmentally-conscious artist, her chosen artistic tools are curious. They are explicitly loud and fumy, intrusive and whining; juxtaposing greatly with the serenity and freshness of the wintry landscape. In an unvarnished sense, her deliberate selection of irritating machinery summons needed responses to the blatant mismanagement and plundering of our landscapes and natural resources. Millard’s images continue to bring together contradictory ways in which we see, alter and represent the landscape while questioning the traces our actions leave behind.

Laura Millard’s exhibition Crossing is supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

Supported from its inception in 2004 by the Whyte Museum, Exposure, Alberta's Photography Festival, has grown to include numerous galleries, institutions, various levels of photographic professionals and audiences. The festival's mission is "to generate participation in photographic image making and to engage practitioners, photo professionals, and audiences in dialogue about the medium, its past, present and future."

In 2019, the Whyte Museum's Exposure exhibitions include Toronto-based photographer Laura Millard's Crossing; NSCAD University master’s student Philip Kanwischer's Inhospitably Ours; selections from the Whyte Museum's collection, Thirst for Wilderness, and a guest-curated exhibit of work by Ron Brown, A Few of My Favourites: Tom Willock and Susan Sax. See Exhibitions for more details.




Venue & Address: 
Main Gallery Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies 111 Bear St., Banff, AB
photo of the exhibition poster for Crossing

Laura Millard's "Crossing" featured in Blake Gopnik on Art

photo of abstract circular patterns on ice with three deer crossing the frame
Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 10:45am

Laura Millard's "Crossing" featured in: Blake Gopnik on Art 

Oct 30, 2017

THE WEEKLY PIC: This is a detail from Laura Millard’s big, backlit image called “Crossing,” now on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, in the show called “Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood.” (Click on my image to see Millard’s full piece.)

Canada’s nationhood, up for grabs in the AGO show, has always been built around ideas of nature, winter and wildlife. Millard’s piece addresses all three: It shows a vast “drawing” that she cut into a snowy landscape with a snowmobile, then photographed with the help of a drone. Passing deer decided to add their own touch, and I’m particularly pleased with how the contribution of such “disorderly” beasts is perfectly rectilinear, whereas the drawing they tread on, made by a supposedly “rational” human, is a knotted mess.

Since its founding as a nation state, and before, Canada has treated the natural world as a blank slate on which its colonists had the right to make whatever mark they chose. Millard has taken that literally, using the messiest, noisiest, smelliest drawing tool she could find.  Her piece is both deeply abstract, in a Pollock-ian mode – Jackson, too, liked to work on the horizontal – and as tied to the world and its troubles as any art could be.

Do her three passing deer provide hope that nature may yet overwrite humanity’s mark? Or are we more likely to read them as a sign that nature is being scribbled out?

For a full survey of past Pics visit

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