By Molly Butler

The only limitation is what can be contained within the frame.

Places. Faces. Plants. Animals. Architecture. Food: enough to quite literally fill a cookbook. There’s not much this artist doesn’t capture. From the broad lines of a landscape to the infinitesimal architecture of a seashell, Lisa Lardy aims her camera at subjects of any and every scale and makes them each feel…important.

The reception for her exhibition at ARTrageous Adventures of Mankato is happening Friday, July 16, from 4-7 p.m., and you absolutely will not want to miss this renaissance woman.

Background

Originally from Woodbury, Minnesota, Lardy has always had an interest in photography.

“Somewhere, there’s a picture of me as a kid with a Brownie camera in my hands,” said Lardy.

She went to the University of Madison, where she studied Interior Design. She learned elements of style and experienced rolling and developing her own film. After college, Lardy returned to Minneapolis, where she worked in interior design. After the real estate market crashed, she was ready to try something new. Photography was waiting for her.

Photo by Lisa Lardy - Owl Face
Photo by Lisa Lardy – Owl Face

Inspiration Everywhere

Lardy’s interest in capturing the world was spurred by her travels, especially international adventures. While exploring new landscapes and cultures, Lardy was moved by the desire to capture the world exactly as she saw it.

“For me, travel is a big piece of inspiration,” said Lardy. “I start seeing things in new ways. Whether it’s a new color, a landscape, the leading lines of a pathway, or something smaller.”

I like creating these images that create questions in the viewer’s mind. I like when they ask themselves, ‘What does it mean?’ Lisa Lardy

From there, her interests just kept expanding. Subjects big and small caught her attention.

“I’m interested in old things. I did a series on doors; old, well-used doors. Doors with a life well-lived. Then, in Belgium, I did a series of mail slots, scaling it down even further. It forced me to look at the world in more detail,” said Lardy.

Photo by Lisa Lardy - From Lardy's Moving Landscapes series
Photo by Lisa Lardy – From Lardy’s Moving Landscapes series

Zooming in, Lardy also likes to capture what she calls the architecture of the natural world; close shots of leaves, shells and flowers.

“I like creating these images that create questions in the viewer’s mind. I like when they ask themselves, ‘What does it mean?’” said Lardy. “Those small details. I could spend hours getting lost in that world.”

While her style is consistently bright and polished, it’s not all literal. The series “Moving Landscapes,” hanging at the Fillin’ Station next to ARTrageous Adventures, was created by moving the camera with the shutter open. The abstract pieces exit solid form and instead focus on movement and stunning color blocking.

Commercial and personal

For twelve years, Lardy operated an annual art boutique in her own neighborhood. She invited artists of all kinds, who brought jewelry, sewing, paintings and other creations. The boutique helped integrate Lardy into her local art community and gave her the purpose to continue creating and exploring the artistic side of photography. The boutique was only paused by COVID-19.

“It’s still alive, in one form or another,” said Lardy.

During the boutique years, Lardy also began accumulating commercial clients. She finds that the artistic and commercial sides of the medium tend to fuel one another, and she’s passionate about both sides of the form.

“I love it. It gives me variety and challenges me in new ways,” said Lardy. “I love helping others achieve their vision.”

One of Lardy’s main areas of commercial work is partnering with food producers to create images of their work, from ingredients all the way to the finished project. She draws a lot of inspiration from her own garden and has a passion for baking, developing and perfecting her own recipes over the course of years. These mingled interests have coalesced into Lardy’s first cookbook. From start to finish, from the recipes to the baked goodies, to the images and layout, SWEETS was a labor of love. The book is one of the many items Lardy has available for purchase at this exhibition.

Photo by Lisa Lardy - Cover for Lardy's cookbook, Sweets
Photo by Lisa Lardy – Cover for Lardy’s cookbook, Sweets

Variety is the spice of life

Portraits. Abstracts. Food. Nature. Architecture. Baking. Design. Lardy truly does it all. It seems that the very variety is what keeps each new series interesting and informed. With her solid foundations in the elements of design, as well as an eye for creative lighting, she makes each disparate venture uniquely and undeniably Lardy’s.

Photo by Lisa Lardy - Shells
Photo by Lisa Lardy – Shells

“Some people say you should do one thing at a time,” said Lardy. “I think being a generalist is good too.”

Over time, Lardy has noticed her work has matured and refined.

“I think more deeply about lines and connections,” said Lardy. “I give it more thought before I snap the picture. I wait for the light to be just right.”

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Artist of the Month is a column by Molly Butler, profiling the current displaying artist with our friends at ARTrageous Adventures Mankato.

Author


  • is a writer, gardener, and animal lover. She returned to the Mankato area after completing her MFA in Creative Writing at Hamline University.