A species-spanning look at health, happiness, illness, diagnosis and recovery
In 2005, feeling very disconnected from nature while living on the Jersey Shore, I decided to invite another animal species to live with me. Not too long after my Weimaraner, Sugar, arrived in my life, it became clear that NJ was just not big enough for her high-energy needs nor did it meet my own needs to be even closer to the natural world. So, in 2010 we moved to Bigfork, Montana. Finally we were where we were supposed to be: humbled by the earth on a daily basis, and creatively inspired by the simple things like a walk in the woods or a stroll around the neighborhood.
In 2015, at the age of 10 and after joyous years of running free and wild in NW Montana, Sugar started to slow down. Age? Arthritis? After a few visits to two different veterinarians, I was told that it was likely both. Then one day in September of that year, just 2 days after our most recent appointment, I awoke to Sugar being completely paralyzed in her hind legs. After 12 days of paralysis and pushed by a third vet, we finally went to Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Then, after an MRI, a diagnosis of discospondylitis (a staph infection in her spinal column likely caused by a UTI), and antibiotics, within two days Sugar was walking again - wobbly but walking.
Sugar Rising, my first solo exhibition, was on view at the Animal Health Library at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine from September 2017 through January 2018, and at Kalispell Regional Medical Center's Healing Arts Gallery March through September 2018.
This exhibition is a celebration of the human-canine bond, the creative spirit that bond unleashed, the wonders of technology and medicine that saved Sugar from this difficult-to-diagnose paralyzing spinal infection, her remarkable comeback, and the MRI that saved her life. Sugar, my best friend and muse, has graced the pages of many publications (including The Bark and Barron’s Weimaraner Complete Pet Owner's Manual), the walls of fine art galleries across the country, modeled in a Perry Ellis ad campaign, and spent 12 days in the Bob Marshall Wilderness with me during an artist residency. The story is a broad overview of her varied and adventurous life including her slow, undiagnosed decline to paralysis, to her complete recovery as told through editorial and fine art imagery.
Sugar Rising is dedicated to our friend Kelly Gownley, without whom Sugar would not still be with me today, and supported in part by a Strategic Investment Grant from the Montana Arts Council.
Originally from NJ, Lauren moved to Montana to heal the wounds that are created by living in the most densely populated state and being so isolated from nature. Her photography falls in the matrix where fine art and documentary meet; where she can tell truths about our relationships to other people, animals, nature, and ourselves. Her work is about empathy.
Lauren’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at Blue Sky Gallery, Newspace Center for Photography, and Black Box Gallery in Portland; Arthill Gallery in London; Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai UAE; Photoville and powerHouse Arena in NYC; Trieste Photo Days festival in Italy; Colorado Photographic Art Center in Denver; Candela Gallery in VA; Atlanta Celebrates Photography at the B Complex Gallery; SE Center for Photography in SC; Yellowstone Art Museum, Missoula Art Museum, and the Montana Triennial 2012 & 2018; and online at Humble Arts Foundation, Der Greif, and World Photo Organization among others. Publications include The New York Times, Harper's, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and Photographer’s Companion (China).