Building on her background in wildlife photography and mixed-media collage, Vanessa Laurin's current visual art projects see her stepping in front of the camera, using herself as her subject and her body as her canvas, which she adorns with elements from her garden and curio collection. She weaves her dark tales through various visual styles, ranging from surreal Victorian-inspired storybook tableaux to high-fashion bone art nods to the costuming traditions of her Germanic ancestors. She works alone with a Nikon DSRL camera, and handles all aspects of her craft, from prop- and set-building, to makeup and wardrobe. Her gothic glamour aesthetic celebrates her own physical transformation and challenges conventional beauty portraiture by evoking the darker aspects of sensuality and desire.
Vanessa was born with a spinal defect and subsequently spent most of her life strapped into a back brace, letting her condition define who she was. In recent years, she embarked on a journey to mental and physical wellness, and embraced bodybuilding as a final (and, thankfully, successful) attempt to rid herself of chronic, debilitating pain. To make peace with her past self, she is revisiting the body of musical work that she created while her physical body was broken, and is now breathing new life into her lyrics as fine art self-portraits. Pain influenced every aspect of her songwriting for nearly three decades—from the subject matter to how she handled each instrument to accommodate her deformity. A body that was once cause for embarrassment and frustration is now a source of inspiration and power.