Xanadu Gallery | Scottsdale, AZ*

Lori Reed


Growing up on a farm in western Illinois instilled in Lori Reed a passion for nature and a deep sense of the movement through the seasons. Reed’s mother and grandmother were both nature lovers and always pointed out beauty when they saw it. The affect they had on Lori is that she responds to nature in her daily life and brings it into her work.

Reed was in a fine art curriculum for two years of college and then switched to graphic design when a summer job in design ignited her interest. After receiving a BFA from the University of Illinois, she worked in graphic design for her career. However, fine art crept back into her life in 2005 in the form of mixed media collage. Reed’s first husband was a graphic designer and sculptor. He encouraged her to pursue art outside of her “day job” of designing for clients. In 2006, the two had their first of four gallery shows together.

The first body of work Reed made was in the traditional sense of mixed media collage. She used old photos, book text, maps, Viewmaster reels, and interesting papers to hint at a story when placed together in a collage. After a trip to Yellowstone National Park in 2009, she was filled with a strong desire to use photographs from the park in her art. Running filters on the images in Adobe Photoshop so as to make the work more painterly, she experimented with cutting the prints into rectangles or tearing them to combine with other variations of the image.

While preparing for a collage workshop with local college students for “recycling weekend” in 2011, Reed had the idea of putting papers through a shredder to give the students something interesting to work with. A light bulb went off: she could run the altered images of her photos through a paper shredder and make a new scene out of the quarter-inch strips of three or four altered photos!

Having since fine-tuned the process, she cuts the strips with an X-acto knife and ruler so that she doesn’t spend so much time sorting the strips of paper. In the final layer of the composition, she will add pieces of handmade papers, book text, topographical maps, or pieces from an old ledger book. She was given several small bags of shredded U.S. currency from the Federal Reserve, so those little pieces often appear in the foliage of her landscapes.

Reed’s husband died in 2014 following a heart surgery. Devastated to have lost her partner in life, work, and art, Lori turned to art making as a way of finding her path back to the living. She shared walking her grief journey with a high school classmate (whom she’d dated off and on during their junior and senior years) who lost his wife in the same timeframe. As the months went on, they realized if they could ever date someone again it would be easy to start with someone they’d dated years before. They are now married and grateful for a supportive Chapter Two with another partner. They travel often and Reed takes photos with a future collage in mind as she frames each shot.

Once people stand in front of some of her work, they always ask, “How much time do these take to make?” Reed responds, “All my life” as she’s realized it’s been a slow build of skills over the years. She took three photography classes in college, so it’s second nature to know how to frame a good photo to start with. Her classes and work as a designer taught her eye-flow, composition, and Photoshop skills. She resists keeping track of how much time it takes to create a piece as that’s too much like her career as a graphic designer — tracking billable hours! Instead, she loves how she has no sense of time as she’s creating. As she’s painting each strip of paper with matte medium to glue it down, and then coating the surface with more medium, her fingers get coated as well. She loves the messiness of the creative process — and the bliss.

Reed has been exhibiting her artwork since 2006 in group or two-person shows. She’s had her work accepted into national juried shows in Illinois, Iowa, New York and Colorado. Over the past 15 years, she’s sold her work in galleries located in Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Montana and Wisconsin. Reed retired from graphic design in 2019 and is devoting herself completely to the joy of creating art.