Arts Writing Artist Features

Laura Hughes

Laura Hughes. 2012 Individual Artist Fellow, Oregon Arts Commission.

Photo: Sabina Poole

Originally published January, 2012

Laura Hughes makes work about light and space and the perception of the two in relationship to each other and to the viewer. Her subtle, site-responsive installations play off the way light acts in a certain space; she creates the appearance of shadow or reflection or amplifies the play of light with the rainbow effects of holo-sheen adhesive vinyl. Often naturally occurring light in a space is used to co-create her work or play against it as with “Untitled (Light Beams)” where the sunlight coming in through large paneled windows created white polygons on the floor that played with the rainbow hued polygons Hughes had applied to wall and floor that captured the shapes that light from the windows made at one moment during the day. Without artificially static light of the typical white box gallery space, Hughes was able to create a work that was different at every time of day, her minimal intervention in the space drawing attention to the temporal light-drawing of everyday sunlight.

Hughes believes that “perception is not simply a question of vision but involves the whole body” and so challenges “distinctions between artwork, viewer, and the surrounding environment so that the viewer’s physical presence plays a crucial role in how the work unfolds.” This was never more the case than with “The Span of an Instant” which presented as faint light cast on the dark walls of Appendix Project Space. It appeared that the glow of the streetlight was casting shadows of the nearby trees onto the walls…until the viewer stepped in front of the wall…and cast no shadow, as if the viewer’s presence had been erased.

Hughes, who won the MFA Thesis Award in 2010 at PNCA, was nominated for the Brink Award and was curated into the 10th Northwest Biennial at the Tacoma Art Museum.

Courtesy of The Oregon Arts Commission.

Artist Credit: Laura Hughes

Exhibition: Oregon Arts Commission Fellows

Project Website

Oregon Arts Commission