School of art sessions on still life photography

U of M alum Laura Letinsky returns to exhibition for artist talk, week of workshopping

Photo by Olivia Michalczuk.

Laura Letinsky – a U of M alumna and University of Chicago professor – has returned to her alma mater to display some of her still life photography in an exhibition called Laura Letinksy: Still Life Photographs, 1997-2012 at the U of M’s school of art gallery.

Still life photography is the depiction of inanimate objects with design elements based on arrangement, lighting, and composition.

For her school of art gallery exhibit, Letinsky seems to emphasize a monochromatic minimalism as the chief design element at play.

Entering the exhibit, your focus is immediately drawn to two turquoise accent walls in a primarily white room.

The photographs are in white frames with white borders, white backgrounds, and coloured accents – much like the room. The photographs are all labeled as “untitled,” each with a depiction of an object on a white table in a white room.

Letinsky was born in Winnipeg and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts (honours) from the school of art. She continued her education at Yale University’s school of art to receive her master of fine arts in 1991.

Letinsky will return to Winnipeg for the exhibition’s reception and artist talk on March 17, and to teach a five-day photography workshop, Shallow, neither flat nor deep,” at the school of art from March 14 to 18.

Her work has been featured and admired at famous galleries world wide including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Canadian Museum of Canadian Photography, and the Netherlands Foto Institute, among many others.

Though she has a remarkable resume, my appreciation for the gallery reached its peak when I tried to take a photograph of the gallery itself. The accent walls were my fruit and strewn pastries and the white walls were the perfect background to create my own Letinsky.

It was difficult to say the least, trying to get an appealing composition with so little to work with. Letinsky made it all look so simple, yet dynamic. Her pictures of table scraps and broken dishes – that are, at times, barely visible – are simply beautiful.

The nature of the photographs seems to parallel many popular Instagram feeds today with minimalism being one of the most common features. The gallery is quite an experience in itself, almost like being in one of her photographs. Once you get used to the layout of the photographs, Letinsky throws in a few tricks of the eye and mind that take a second to understand and recover from. The few pages of notes in the guest book give the gallery high praises, and interesting insight on the thoughts of students and other visitors.


Laura Letinsky: Still Life Photographs, 1997-2012 will be featured in the School of Art Gallery until April 1. The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. with no charge for admission. For more information, email