Three Works

Art / Laurie Hogin


From the writer

:: Account ::

Pic­tures are ide­o­log­i­cal; pic­to­r­i­al con­ven­tions imply nar­ra­tives: his­tor­i­cal­ly, land­scape, still life, por­trai­ture; now, adver­tis­ing, cin­e­ma, Insta­gram. I hybridize strate­gies from painting’s his­to­ry with con­tem­po­rary pic­to­r­i­al con­ven­tions. Species are alle­gor­i­cal and are mutat­ed, exag­ger­at­ed, or degrad­ed: they are lurid hues of big-box store com­modi­ties and pix­i­lat­ed palettes; their mor­phol­o­gy resem­bles toys and car­toons, the lit­er­al embod­i­ment of all they live with. They inhab­it places that are over­grown or apoc­a­lyp­tic, flo­res­cent and fluorescent.

Dio­ra­ma with Xanax and Bruised Fruit

Dio­ra­mas have fas­ci­nat­ed me ever since child­hood. They are ten­den­tious nar­ra­tives about nature, frozen in time, dead yet pre­sent­ed as though liv­ing. They rep­re­sent cer­tain cul­tur­al prac­tices regard­ing “nature”: impe­ri­al­ism, con­sumerism, tran­scen­den­tal­ism, spir­i­tu­al­i­ty, poet­ry, and even ratio­nal­ist philoso­phies incept­ed by immer­sion in “the nat­ur­al world.” Dio­ra­mas were like alter­nate homes to me, spaces where time was sus­pend­ed and I imag­ined I was safe from my real life, and the still­ness, death, and arti­fice meant I was safe from real, raw nature. I’ve done at least a hun­dred “dio­ra­ma” works where­in the plants and ani­mals have been invad­ed, poi­soned, mutat­ed, or oth­er­wise inflect­ed with over­whelm­ing and inap­pro­pri­ate chemistries. In this one, the fruits are the col­ors of bruised flesh, sug­gest­ing that vio­lence has influ­enced the ecosys­tem. The pres­ence of the drug is an attempt to ame­lio­rate its effects. These ref­er­ences to vio­lence and drugs are intend­ed to present a nar­ra­tive metaphor for any num­ber of sit­u­a­tions in which “poi­son­ing” and “pal­li­a­tion” may be operative.

Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Guinea Pigs (Prozac)

Prozac is one of the works in the first series of Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Guinea Pigs, which has four sim­i­lar pink, toothed, unset­tled, mutant guinea pigs, each named for an anti­de­pres­sant. I use the guinea pig as an icon of sci­en­tif­ic objec­ti­fi­ca­tion and exper­i­ment, because it is a lab­o­ra­to­ry ani­mal (and they are shaped like pills!), to sug­gest that our pos­i­tivist cul­ture puts greater faith in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal inter­ven­tion in mood process­es than per­haps it should. Prob­a­bly some­times low mood is endoge­nous; clear­ly, many times it is nar­ra­tive, result­ing from trau­ma. My guinea pigs sug­gest that med­icat­ing for emo­tions can be problematic.

Amyg­dala Cranes

The amyg­dala, a region of the brain involved in moti­va­tion, emo­tion, and emo­tion­al behav­ior, is acti­vat­ed by all sen­so­ry expe­ri­ences. Research sug­gests it plays a role in acqui­si­tion and con­sol­i­da­tion of emo­tion­al­ly charged mem­o­ries. I’m inter­est­ed in how such mem­o­ries become lan­guage, sym­bols, and metaphors, and how sen­so­ry inputs like col­or, sound, scent, phys­i­cal pain, plea­sure, or social and emo­tion­al con­text devel­op latent mean­ings through asso­ci­a­tion with ear­li­er expe­ri­ence and sub­se­quent nam­ing, cat­e­go­riza­tion, and nar­ra­tive. This paint­ing was part of a solo exhi­bi­tion titled Amyg­dala. Top­ics in that show includ­ed the idea that rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al strate­gies and ges­tures inher­ent in paint­ing present mem­o­ry and emo­tion­al expe­ri­ence as simul­ta­ne­ous­ly embod­ied and sym­bol­ized. Cranes engage in courtship dances, a fact which occa­sions many hypothe­ses about the nature of the emo­tion­al, embod­ied expe­ri­ences of what we call love and the many ways in which those expe­ri­ences are rei­fied in lan­guage and culture.


Best known for paint­ings of mutant ani­mals in lurid, over­grown land­scapes, Lau­rie Hogin exam­ines human desires and needs, includ­ing plea­sure, vio­lence, greed, and love, describ­ing polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, and emo­tion­al phe­nom­e­na. Her work has been exhib­it­ed nation­al­ly and inter­na­tion­al­ly for 23 years, and is in mul­ti­ple pub­lic and pri­vate col­lec­tions. Hogin lives and works in Mahomet, Illi­nois, with her hus­band, their 15-year-old son, and some ani­mals. She is a Pro­fes­sor of Paint­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illinois.