Good Will & Salvation by Laura Russell


Good Will & Salvation is a tribute to my Mother, an avid thrift store shopper. She lives in Michigan and I live in Oregon. Whenever we get together we spend our days trolling every Goodwill and Salvation Army store in whichever town we happen to be in. My mother shops to her heart’s desire and I spend the day taking photographs to document the quirky castoffs of our commercial consumer culture.

The pairing of images in this book mean a lot to me both in their idiosyncratic juxtapositions and their implied social comment on our urban landscape. My work is inspired by Nathan Lyons, who explored the layered interpretations of sequencing, which he calls “the concept of using images to explore a variety of relationships and expansion of the meaning made possible by sequenced images unaccompanied by text.” The image of a barber’s vest with words that read “change your hair” is paired with a rack of forlorn wigs. The ceramic bride figurines paired with a rack of wrinkled wedding dresses. The baby doll paired with the grown-up, naked Barbie dolls. The (again naked) GI Joe dolls paired with the plaid polyester pants that no self-respecting manly man would ever be caught dead wearing. Other pairings I will leave to the viewer’s perceptions and associations. As Lyons said, “each sequence can be thought of as a movement within the larger symphony.” All are joined together by a long accordion spine strip that shows miles and miles of clothing racks, garments organized by color, just as you’d find in any quality Goodwill store.

Artist Bio

Laura Russell is a photographer and book artist who creates hand-bound, limited-edition artist books that incorporate photographs of our urban landscape and tell a story about our culture and our communities. She has participated in national and international book arts and fine art exhibitions. Her books are collected by individual collectors and are in major collections at museums, libraries, universities and corporations. Laura is also the founder of 23 Sandy Gallery, a fine art gallery in Portland, 2007-2020, which is now owned and operated by Erin Mickelson.

Artist Statement

My goal as an artist is to open our minds to the visual and graphic landscape we look at every day but never really see. If we pay attention, we find that our urban landscape has a story to tell about our culture and our communities. For many years I have photographed vintage neon signs, brick wall ghost signs, graffiti and other examples of language and graphics in our environment. Recently, I have since expanded my photography to our urban social landscape. I use these photographs to create limited edition, hand-bound artist books that are at once a celebration of the vernacular and my own small effort to preserve our social, cultural and commercial landscape.