Laurie BLAKESLEE

40-Year Garden ARTIST STATEMENT

For more than four decades, my mother-­‐in-­‐law Fritz has been gardening the same plot of land (approximately an 1/4 acre) behind her home in Boise, Idaho. Her children say they can hardly believe she maintained such a huge garden when she worked full time. Despite their protests to scale back the ambitious planting, each year the garden seems to expand. In the tremendous heat of late summer, even Fritz will admit she is overwhelmed by the work. Fortunately, my partner Stephanie shares her mother’s love of gardening and works alongside her. Fritz’s passion for gardening began at a young age. She won 4-­‐H prizes for her vegetables and received a cultivator as an 8th grade graduation gift. She was born during the Depression, and her family valued the soil of their backyard garden. As a young girl, gardening was a way to please her mother by growing food for the family, as well as an escape from family tension. Today not only does this garden provide food for her family (and her lucky neighbors), but it also allows a space for meditation through the ritual of daily maintenance. It is clear that as Fritz, now in her mid 80s, grows older, this garden provides a way to maintain her vitality. With the series “40-­‐Year Garden” I am photographing a garden in all its seasons of transformation and the beauty of Fritz with her resilience and determination. 

Laurie Blakeslee’s photography deals with family, memory and loss. Recently she has directed her camera towards her aging parents and their consuming passions, including gardening, restoring classic cars, and collecting guns. Blakeslee was born in Renton, Washington, but has lived most of her life in Idaho where her family roots extend across four generations. Blakeslee received a BFA from Boise State University with an emphasis in painting and an MFA in photography from the University of Arizona in Tucson. She is an Associate Professor of Art at Boise State where she teaches photography and coordinates the art foundation program. Her artwork has been exhibited across the United States and most recently at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon and at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, South Pole.