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Laura Millard: Crossing

Updated: Jan 18, 2019

By Anne Ewen, Curator of Art & Heritage

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Laura Millard, Crossing, 2017, water-based inks on recyclable polymer fabric, LEDs, aluminum frame with fabric light box, 6'x 9', courtesy of the artist.


Part of Exposure, Alberta's Photography Festival, the exhibition Laura Millard: Crossing opens Saturday, February 2 at the Whyte Museum and will run until April 7, 2019.

Laura Millard creates large drawings in the landscape using a snowmobile on frozen lakes in northern Ontario. The tracks and patterns are often animated with a leaf blower and a snow thrower to create veils of glistening crystals. Photographed from above by a drone, the images are then printed on rag paper or fabric. In her studio, Millard enhances her paper images with graphite and watercolour, while the fabric images are printed with water-based ink to complete these strikingly unexpected images. The fabric images are mounted onto recyclable aluminum frames and backlit with LED lighting.

With the lake the primary drawing surface, shifting winter temperatures allow earlier drawing traces to slightly sink. As a fresh layer of ice and snow form on top, a new set of tracks are imprinted, creating depth and unity to the otherwise singular images. Animals randomly and unwittingly contribute contrasting markings to Millard’s purposefully sledded drawings. Deer travel across the drawing spaces unaware of any imposition to their landscape or to the artist’s creative endeavours. Their linear trek across Millard’s snow-laden picture surface coexists with her circular marks in agreeable happenstance.

Laura Millard, Lac des Arcs (version 2), 2017, oil on colour photograph mounted on dibond, 40" x 60", courtesy of the artist


Yet, for this environmentally-conscious artist, her chosen artistic tools are curious. They are explicitly loud and fumy, intrusive and whining; juxtaposing greatly with the serenity and freshness of the wintry landscape. In an unvarnished sense, her deliberate selection of irritating machinery summons needed responses to the blatant mismanagement and plundering of our landscapes and natural resources. Millard’s images continue to bring together contradictory ways in which we see, alter and represent the landscape while questioning the traces our actions leave behind.

Laura Millard’s exhibition Crossing is supported by the Ontario Arts Council.


Supported from its inception in 2004 by the Whyte Museum, Exposure, Alberta's Photography Festival, has grown to include numerous galleries, institutions, various levels of photographic professionals and audiences. The festival's mission is "to generate participation in photographic image making and to engage practitioners, photo professionals, and audiences in dialogue about the medium, its past, present and future."

In 2019, the Whyte Museum's Exposure exhibitions include Toronto-based photographer Laura Millard's Crossing; NSCAD University master’s student Philip Kanwischer's Inhospitably Ours; selections from the Whyte Museum's collection, Thirst for Wilderness, and a guest-curated exhibit of work by Ron Brown, A Few of My Favourites: Tom Willock and Susan Sax. See Exhibitions for more details.

The Whyte Museum's photographic exhibitions are supported by The John & Barbara Poole Family Funds at the Edmonton Community Foundation.

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