Photographer Brings Joy Through Botanical Art The Jewish News – The Jewish News

Posted By on July 9, 2021

Botanical artist Laurie Tennent has had a lifelong passion for the art of capturing images. The Birmingham native, who attended the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and received a bachelor of fine arts degree in photography, has had her work featured in public and private art galleries around the world.

With her photography on display through October at City Bloom: Birmingham, a 3-mile outdoor installation along the Rouge River Trail that runs through Booth Park, Quarton Lake and Linden Park, the all botanical-themed exhibit is just one of many creative projects Tennent, soon to be 60, has in the works.

I really love historical botanical drawings and Dutch paintings, she says of the two key influences on her style. Theyre really rich and very dark in the background.

For Tennents botanical photography in particular, where flowers pop in color against similarly dark backgrounds, she calls her twist on these two styles a contemporary botanical illustration.

In using photography as the medium, the images are classic in their composition, she explains, but theyre presented in a very contemporary, sleek contrast with metal frame to the edge, so they almost appear like a painting on canvas.

Its this distinctive, dramatic presentation of her work that has drawn people to Tennents photography for decades. After graduation, she began to build her now-renowned career by working in local art galleries. I really learned a lot about the business of handling artists and also what it took for artists to get their work into galleries, she says. I learned how the galleries worked with their artists to promote their careers.

Inspired to launch her own gallery, Tennent took these important lessons with her as she opened Eton Street Gallery in Birmingham. I featured the finer work of commercial photographers all over the country, she explains.

This gave commercial photographers a chance to showcase their work, which Tennent says many of these artists didnt have a chance to do. There were a lot of great car photographers in Detroit, and they had all this great personal work that no one ever saw, she recalls as an example, alongside architectural photographers.

Yet Tennent found that showcasing these works alone couldnt support the art gallery in keeping the space open. Already experienced in the business of commercial photography, Tennent joined the industry and began to do catalog work.

She took photos for specialty retailers like J. Crew and Crate & Barrel, plus Somerset Mall and various print magazines. The commercial photography arm of her multifaceted business became one of its biggest assets, an area she has now worked in for more than 30 years.

Yet working in the commercial photography sector meant Tennent was regularly traveling. She also photographed weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs, making her a household name in Metro Detroits Jewish community. At one point, though, Tennent found herself working seven days a week to photograph the events, balancing raising a family with her blossoming career.

Picking Botanicals

Then, nine years ago, Tennent was diagnosed with breast cancer, which forced her to slow down and take time to heal. It was during her recovery that she rediscovered her love for botanical art and made it one of the core building blocks of her career.

I realized being at home, how healing it was for me to be back in the garden, Tennent recalls. I really wanted to get back to my photography and my series that I created over the years on botanicals.

She took walks, developed her own garden at home and traveled to different botanical gardens around the country. One botanical garden in Arizona featured glass designs in a garden, which made Tennent realize what she wanted to do with her work.

It was absolutely amazing, she recalls. I wanted to get this type of work off the gallery walls and into the garden, where people can really appreciate it back in its natural setting.

Tennent developed a marketing plan to showcase botanical artwork in gardens around the country. She partnered with botanists and different garden clubs to collect interesting botanical species that she could photograph in her studio. Yet, there was one challenge she had to solve.

In order to print these pieces to be in a garden setting, I had to experiment with a lot of materials, Tennent says. I came to print them on aluminum so that they are weather-resistant. This method of printing, she explains, allows botanical art shows (like City Bloom: Birmingham) to operate during all seasons.

City Bloom: Birmingham is the continuation of a traveling botanical art installation that Tennent partners with different collectors and exhibits to create. She says its appearance in Metro Detroit was the perfect timing, as it gave people a chance to not only get out of the house and walk along the trail but also provided a COVID-safe activity that was both inspirational and fun.

Created in partnership with the city of Birmingham and the Robert Kidd Gallery, the 3-mile trail features Tennents botanical photographs printed on weather-resistant materials that are tucked alongside trees, flowers and bushes. It brings it back to nature, she explains.

Yet, Tennents passion for botanical art doesnt stop there. Shes also partnered with Daffodils 4 Detroit, an organization that aims to plant millions of daffodils throughout the city. As perennial flowers, daffodils would grow back year after year, showering Detroit in splashes of yellow.

To support the effort, Tennent has launched a Daffodils 4 Detroit collection that features daffodil-themed and inspired pieces like serving trays, notebooks, pencil pouches and even scarves and masks.

Daffodils 4 Detroit is a really interesting project that wants to plant a daffodil for every person in the city, Tennent says.

Im giving back money from the line of products that I created for that charity. Its an uplifting sight to see the daffodils around the city.

Additionally, Tennent is an advocate of Alzheimers disease support groups. Earlier this spring, she partnered with Neiman Marcus and the Alzheimers Association for their 2021 Spring Soiree, a shopping event that raises money for the association. There, Laurie signed copies of her book BOTANICALS: Intimate Portraits.

For the artist, it was an important mission: her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all died with early onset dementia by age 72.

Now, as she continues to give back to the community in numerous ways, Tennent also runs her current Birmingham gallery (Laurie Tennent Botanicals) while she plans a trip to Tuscany, Italy, in September for a photography workshop. Shes also teaching photography classes at Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, Cranbrook and in her own studio.

I really am passionate about my work helping other people, Tennent says.

If you can do something beautiful that other people love, and may bring not only beauty to their home, but to help a good cause, that is a huge importance for me.

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Photographer Brings Joy Through Botanical Art The Jewish News - The Jewish News

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