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Like Persian miniatures, Bustamante’s paintings are elaborate and enticing, combining human-interpreted flora with otherworldly environments. Her work is constructed with layers of gouache and acrylic paint to create ethereal and atmospheric settings, where microscopic gardens float and flourish. By contrasting highly rendered flora with abstract settings, she explores the schism in the human brain between our delight in nature and our global inability to maintain it. Each of Bustamante’s paintings are about the size of a book page and invite the same level of intimacy.
Laurel Bustamante (b. 1956, California) studied painting and drawing in the San Francisco Bay area and received her BFA from Southern Oregon University in 1999. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in the US and abroad. She was awarded the Artist on Location Project residency in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles in 2000 and the Crater Lake National Park Artist Residency in 2001. In 2013, she was a finalist for the Portland Art Museum’s Contemporary Northwest Art Awards. Bustamante was one of eight artists featured in the 2015 Schneider Museum of Art exhibit, “Exploring Reality.” She lives and works in Ashland, Oregon.