LightBox Gallery

Women of Art ~ A Visual Life, 2

A profile of three of Portland’s most creative photographers. Part 2: Laura Kurtenbach.

This is Part Two of a three-part series profiling the visual lives of three exceptionally creative photographers based in Portland. Part One introduces the series and features Grace Weston. Part Three is devoted to Susan Bein. The following profile of Laura Kurtenbach comprises Part Two of the series.


LAURA KURTENBACH


Lured (from the series Femme Noir)

Laura Kurtenbach began her journey with fine art photography as a young girl growing up in Central Illinois, where she enjoyed an early exposure to the visual arts, gaining an understanding of both the creative and technical aspects of image-making. In school she grew to love the arts through drawing, painting, sculpture and photography, and by her senior year in high school she was well-acquainted with the dark room, spending countless hours processing photographic film and acquiring strong technical skills along the way.  After high school she attended Columbia College in Chicago, earning a BA in photography and fine art. She went on to do graduate work at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where she received her MFA in photography.

In her professional career, Laura worked for almost fifteen years for a major international publication as a photo technician and printer, finely honing her photography and post-processing skills on the job and in her free time. Her job allowed for much travel time, during which Laura photographed mostly documentary subjects. Later she began a new career in academia, teaching photography in a variety of educational institutions, including Northwestern Illinois University at Evanston, the Wright City College of Chicago, Columbia College in Chicago, and the Newspace Center for Photography in Portland. She is currently an adjunct professor of photography at the Academy of Art University and Portland State University. Laura now has over two decades of professional experience as a practitioner in the photography industry and an educator in fine art and documentary photography.

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Tumbling statues, voices heard

ArtsWatch Weekly: A culture in crisis clashes over the past; a museum reopens; photos & films; singing amid the vines; a bookstore steps out

THE BIG NEWS IN PORTLAND THIS WEEK has been Sunday night’s downtown rumble through the cultural district, a highly focused and rigorously carried out protest – declared by its organizers to be an Indigenous People’s Day of Rage – in which activists toppled public statues of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, vandalized the Oregon Historical Society to the tune of an estimated $25,000 or more, did lesser damage outside the Portland Art Museum and at Portland State University, smashed store windows, and shot bullets inside an empty restaurant. Police declared the protest a riot, but took no action until after the damage was done. And the story was immediately picked up by President Donald Trump, who tweeted his desire to rush federal officers into the Portland fray. “Put these animals in jail, now,” he tweeted, referring to the protesters, and quickly followed up: “Law & Order! Portland, call in the Feds!”

David Manuel’s “The Promised Land” was controversial when it was installed in 1993 and is even more controversial now after months of racial and political unrest. It was removed for safekeeping from downtown Portland’s Chapman Square in July.

ArtsWatch’s Laurel Reed Pavic was working on a story about the issue of politically and mythologically charged public monuments and how to deal with them when cultural values and understandings of history shift. She quickly updated her analysis after Lincoln and Roosevelt – not the most obvious of targets, although each had specific issues about Indigenous rights – came tumbling down. The symbolic overthrow of monuments, she notes in her essay After the Statues Come Down, is nothing new: “Defacing or damaging public art has always gone hand-in-hand with putting it up in the first place. It happened in the city-states of ancient Mesopotamia and continues to happen today. The visual impact of a former leader face-down on the pavement hasn’t lessened over the past 5,000 years.”

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