Laura Ahola-Young received her MFA from San Jose State University and her BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She currently resides in Pocatello, Idaho where she is an Associate Professor of Art at Idaho State University. Originally from the Iron Range and Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Northern Minnesota, Laura is influenced by landscape, winters, ice and resilience. She is currently developing work that incorporates scientific research, plant physiology, critical plant studies, geology and personal narrative.
"Mapping Oxygen" mixed-media on board,18in x 18in, 2021
Two Pines Down (after the Fire) graphite, ink and watercolor on paper, 20in x 16in, 2023
"Found Object 2, Cut, Burned" ink and watercolor on board, 22in x 22in, 2023
"Found Object 1, Cut, Burned" ink and watercolor on board, 22in x 22in, 2023
"Lichenization 2 and the Marking of Fire" mixed-media on paper, 18in x 12in, 2023
These works are inspired by a collection of photos from fire landscapes I encounter. Initially, my goal in taking these photos was to identify the first plant life after the fire, and while this investigation continues as part of my practice, these pieces departed from those intentions as I became interested in how humans have marked the land before fire and the skeletal remains of trees acting as maps of time, oxygen and carbon.
As an artist I attempt to provide evidence of the intricacies of regeneration, of life in the forest. The findings on the ground after a fire reveal the marks of fire itself: lichen, mycology, growth, decay and the complex relationship between human actions and vegetal life. I understand the need for a forest to regenerate itself through fire—yet fear, destruction and abundance of the wildfires in the Pacific Northwest are a new experience that terrifies and humbles me. I hope that my work situates my past with my present in a way that represents the forest—and all that is vegetal—in a reverent and ethical depiction of life.
more from Laura's perspective
Gibson Jack Trail: Laura's favorite hike in Pocatello, part of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest
a view of Pocatello, Idaho where Laura lives: Pocatello, a high desert and a sage steppe landscape is in the Southeast corner of Idaho
an example of Laura's source imagery: a photo from her collection of visiting and documenting forest fire sites