Realism and Abstraction, Fabric and Politics Inform Exhibition

The Laura Tanner Graham, "Bountiful Lady," 2015

Laura Tanner Graham’s mixed media drawings and installations explore the history of pattern and printed textiles and the ways in which they reflect social and political agendas. “Both narrative and non-objective pattern absorb the history of the time that they were conceived,” writes the artist. “Wallpaper, upholstery and apparel all operate as vessels for nostalgia. Textiles, particularly those that are narrative in nature, can also directly reflect the interests of both the owner and the creator through subversive imagery that often emulates propaganda.”

Much of Graham’s imagery is borrowed from 18th-century French toile patterns, which had a rich history of condemning the aristocracy by graphically exposing their fallacies and ridiculing their tyrannical pursuits. Graham notes that she finds these narratives especially poignant in today’s turbulent political climate. “By adapting traditional characters and settings from these patterns, I construct new narratives that record contemporary accounts of racial and gender injustices.”

Jim Graham’s current paintings explore the role of mimicry, specifically, he points out, by working with Jim Graham, Fireplace Floralplace," oil on canvas, 22"x32", 2016subject matter that mimics the process by which the painting was made. He uses representational and abstract approaches in one painting in order that his works might “renegotiate an evolving culture that has abandoned the ‘either/or’ mentality in substitution for a ‘plus/and’ society.” He notes that they include “staples of a southern artist’s studio; box fans, hanging ferns, and saltine crackers” as well as “more subtle nods towards non-representational painting with large blocks of geometric color and looping gestural lines that reflect two competing sentiments of many post-war painters of the 1950s…The final composition results in a revolving combination of the materials, the environment, and the discourse surrounding contemporary painting at any given moment.”


Laura Tanner Graham received the MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the BFA from Florida State University. She has exhibited nationally in both group and solo exhibitions including the Weatherspoon Art Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Athens Institute of Contemporary Art. She has been a visiting artist at Tulane University and Western Illinois University. In 2016, Graham was awarded a fellowship and residency at the Ucross Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center. Her website is here.

Jim Graham lives with his wife, artist Laura Tanner Graham, in Covington, Louisiana, where he is a full-time instructor of painting and drawing at Southeastern Louisiana University. Graham’s work has been presented and discussed in public forums throughout the country, most recently as a 2015 Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Grant nominee. Recent exhibitions include group shows at the Zhou B. Art Center in Chicago, the Ten Gallery in New Orleans and solo exhibitions at the Joan Derryberry Art Gallery of Tennessee Technical University and the Cole Pratt Gallery in New Orleans, which represents Graham’s work. His website is here.

Funding support for the Sella-Granata Art Gallery comes from the Department of Art and Art History and the College of Arts and Sciences. Admission to the gallery is free. Hours are Monday through Thursday 10:00 – 4:00 p.m. The gallery is located at 109 Woods Hall in the heart of the UA campus on Woods Quad. Information about visitor parking is available here: Parking is free on campus in a legal space after business hours.