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LIGHT + METAL: Lori Vrba, A Collector of Curious Things


photo-eye Gallery LIGHT + METAL:
Lori Vrba, A Collector of Curious Things
LIGHT + METAL is Lori Vrba’s debut exhibition at photo-eye Gallery and we were thrilled to include her.

"Assemblage work came as a surprise to me. I am a hell-bent film and darkroom girl and I really started it all just ten years ago. So to go off the rails with object work was not something I saw coming. But I am a collector of curious things…always have been." – Lori Vrba

Lori Vrba, Memoir, Encaustic Photograph on Tile, Chain and Piano Bridge 52x24" Image, Unique, $2400

LIGHT + METAL is Lori Vrba’s debut exhibition at photo-eye Gallery and we were thrilled to include her. Lori is a self-taught artist raised in Southeast Texas, whose childhood was spent playing in the woods and it was not until Lori was an adult that she discovered photography.  She is now a regular maker of photographs, objects, and installations, including a giant nest that she fabricated in her backyard, as well as a curator and a modest musician. For a number of years, I have been admiring Lori Vrba’s unique handcrafted photographic objects. Lori came to my attention after watching videos from her Piano Farm, a one night only exhibition in New Orleans, LA set in a historic home. The exhibition wasn't quite like anything I’d seen before — the environment, the artwork, the music, just all of it, there was truly a sense of poetry and soul to everything. I knew one day I wanted to work with Lori on something.

Our conversation with artist Lori Vrba is number 13 of 13 from our mini-interview series from the LIGHT + METAL exhibition. Though we will be de-installing the exhibition tomorrow we're thrilled that so many people got to the experience the show, some visiting multiple times, and that the exhibition is well archived in the form of these conversations — which have been a delight to share.

—Anne Kelly, Gallery Director

Lori Vrba, Portal, Encaustic Photograph, on Vintage Cupcake Tin, 28x16" Image, Unique, $1600

photo-eye:     What inspired you to create the pieces included in LIGHT + METAL?

Lori Vrba, Studio Staging Area
Lori Vrba:     Assemblage work came as a surprise to me. I am a hell-bent film and darkroom girl and I really started it all just ten years ago.  So to go off the rails with object work was not something I saw coming. But I am a collector of curious things…always have been. And I am also a risk-taker for the most part. A few years ago, I was compelled to try my hand with the encaustic process, and the minute I made my first wax piece (which felt like a different kind of object), I immediately started to gather the parts that then became my first assemblage. I loved solving the puzzle. I loved finding and combining objects that furthered the narrative of my own photographs. I loved the marriage of my image or print to something that once belonged to someone else.

Sometimes it starts with a single photograph, mine or vintage, or a box, or some found oddity. People now mail or personally bring me things that they think I could use in my work. Imagine how that kind of generosity can inspire a maker.

pe:     Who are your influences?

LV:     I am self-taught and did not grow up with an exposure to art, but one of my all-time favorite museums is the Menil Collection in Houston, where I lived for more than 20 years. It was there that I fell in love with Joseph Cornell. To see so many of his works with my own eyes, over time, defined for me, the highest level of assemblage. It is a daunting standard that I can only hope will inspire, rather than intimidate my efforts in three-dimensional work.

Lori Vrba, Tic Toc, Encaustic Photograph, Silver Gelatin Test Strips, Test Tubes, Vintage Box, 11x11" Image, Unique, $950

pe:     As we understand it you are also a musician. What instrument do you play? 

LV:     I had never played any instrument until I started guitar ten years ago. I'm not great and never will be but playing has become sort of critical to my well being. There is something truly meditative about it that feels like a mental and physical pause or prize throughout any given day. My friend Tama Hochbaum and I play regularly together and occasionally have gigs as Mama Do A Tone which is all way more fun than the law should allow. She is actually quite good and also generous, which makes me better.

pe:     What's your favorite dessert?

LV:     It’s a tie: Warm cookies straight from the oven. Peanut butter or chocolate chip. Cold Milk. Homemade apple cobbler with walnuts, warm. Good vanilla ice cream.

Lori Vrba – Image, Eliot Dudik
Lori Vrba is a self-taught, film-based artist with a home studio and darkroom in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her story-telling imagery is rooted in themes of memory, loss, revival, and the natural world. Her work is held in both permanent and private collections in the United States and abroad. Most recently, Vrba curated the exhibition Tribe for the Fox Talbot Museum at Lacock Abbey.  Her first monograph, The Moth Wing Diaries, was published in 2015 by Daylight and was named one of the top ten photo books of the year by American Photo Magazine.


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LIGHT + METAL has been extended at photo-eye Gallery 
through this Saturday, September 22nd, 2018. 

For additional information on Lori Vrba's work, 
and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 
505-988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com.




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