Magnificent Beast by Laura Russell


The story of Diana, the Roman Goddess of the Hunt, and her interaction with the deer hunter Actaeon is fascinating from a both mythological and feminist points of view, but the twist of fate is sad. Poor Actaeon, looking through the trees at Diana bathing in a river, had no idea the merciless Goddess would turn him into a stag, only to be torn to pieces and devoured by his own hounds. A high price to pay for a perhaps accidental peek at the beautiful Goddess. At the same time one can’t help but be impressed with Diana’s fierce will, independence, strength, her love of nature, her protectiveness over the young, and her power over men.

Magnificent Beast pairs photographs of modern day women deer hunters with excerpts from Ted Hughes’ translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses story of Diana and Actaeon. The book is bound using Kevin Steele’s multiple layer accordion structure. Looking through the layers of the accordion is like looking through trees in the woods.

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.