Artist’s work offers new perspective

Published 6:23 pm Friday, September 7, 2018

Many people viewing art have certain expectations that they bring with that experience, but local artist Lanora Yates enjoys challenging those expectations in paintings of uncommon subjects and distorted images.

Yates has loved painting for years, and she holds a bachelor of fine arts and a master of fine arts degree in drawing and painting from the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art. While at UGA, she became friends with some of the people who eventually agreed to be featured in her art, something she said she is extremely grateful for. 

“I worked at the Georgia Museum of Art for a long time, so a lot of these are my friends who I worked with that let me use their image, which is a huge gift because my style of painting leans more toward the grotesque,” Yates said. “It’s not pretty people.”

Yates said that she enjoys turning expectations on their heads, and she makes a point of painting scenes very different from what she would have seen at many museums when she was younger. Some of her pieces offer a new take on well-known classical art — like variations on “Leda and the Swan,” featuring her veterinarian roommate, and “The Madonna of Mercy,” featuring a former coworker. 

“I saw the Madonna of Mercy paintings where the Madonna is like a giant, and there were all these little people around her,” Yates said. “So, I made a giant painting of Ann Dean and called it ‘Madonna of Mercy.’”

While the classic version painting depicts a larger than life Virgin Mary at her most dignified, Yates’ piece explores a less dignified recline that one might expect to see in a real-life setting. Her other works explore the type of people who are often seen in real life, but are rarely featured in well-known works of art.

“Older women aren’t represented often in museums or older men,” Yates said. 

Yates now works as the gallery manager and curator at LaGrange College’s Lamar Dodd Art Center, and she said that her time working at both museums has had a huge impact on her art and her understanding of art. 

“It is a great place for an artist to have a job because you get to interact with other artists, and you get to go behind the scenes and handle the art,” Yates said. “It is really fun, and I just lucked into it.”

Yates’ painting ‘Portrait of a Young Woman’ will be one of the pieces featured in the Visual Artists Alliance exhibition at the LaGrange Art Museum. The opening reception will be held on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is free to the public. The exhibit will remain on display until Oct. 6.