Local Artist Spotlight: Lori Nelson


I first saw Lori Nelson’s paintings at the library and was immediately intrigued by the originality of her work. I had been told that she put herself in all of her paintings, but after talking to her, she insists that it is not by design. At first, she couldn’t decide on a style, Nelson says, and it wasn’t until she stopped trying to impress her peers that she really hit her stride. 

“Narrative artwork isn’t hip,” Nelson says, so she began painting stories that are open enough for the viewer to decide what it is about. Although she admits, “a lot of people hope that the answer is on the back of the painting,” no one version is absolutely correct. “I have my own story for each painting, usually autobiographical, my story is not necessarily the ‘true’ or ‘real’ story,” she says. She thinks of it as the Rorschach school of art interpretation. Nelson recalls a show with a group of children who noted that the people in the paintings were ‘naked.’ She explained that the people were, in fact, naked and that was okay. Children once again captured the truth of the matter whereas adults couldn’t seem to do the same. 

Nelson graduated from the University of Utah in 1993 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree and has since shown in the University Student Show, Best Painting of Show 1992 Statewide Intercollegiate Show 1992 and 1993 and Finch Lane Art Gallery, SLC., 1993. She has also done exhibits at the Art Barn and one of my favorite haunts, Caffe Molise

I have to admit, before I met her I thought she might be an Art Snob, but I was pleasantly mistaken. Nelson is as easygoing a person as you’ll meet, quoting her interests as “second-hand stuff, things that people throw away.”

She enjoys art that shows the human element of the artist. She does however have a soft spot for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, as well as Mediterranean architecture. She’s not sure where her next exhibit will be, but keep a look out for this truly eclectic painter.  –Mad Max

Read more from our August 1994 issue here.