The most amazing event in the Art Community of New Orleans! If you weren’t there, you really missed a magical event. Lori Vrba’s photographs, vision and installation are miraculous and genius.
— Eddie Hebert, Director of A Gallery for Fine Photography

Lori Vrba’s Piano Farm is a consistently beautiful, fully realized body of work. The images are of a very real place (not far from where I live) but better-Lori has created a world of visual and sensory wonder, a realm imagined yet ever tangible. The photographs are the definition of the word romance, in all its best connotations, while they retain a deep connection to feelings of home, rootedness, there-ness. And the prints, oh, the prints. I was blown away. They explain anew why film, paper, and toner exist. I wanted to hold them, and then dive into them.
— Alexa Dilworth, publishing director, Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University

In Lori Vrba’s photography, comfort comes from rich visual textures and poignancy of natural surroundings. Her show Southern Comfort, at Jennifer Schwartz Gallery until January 28, is a mélange of photographs that speaks to a love of the medium. Yet within the works resides a tension and unease between the photographer and the people and places around her.

Her images, painstakingly printed by hand in her basement darkroom on silver gelatin, are a sepia-tinged ode to her surroundings. Vrba shoots with a Hasselblad, the Swedish brand used throughout NASA’s Apollo program and during the first moon landing. Instead of the craggy desert of the moon, however, Vrba’s Hasselblad captures the roughly textured surface of her North Carolina environs, drawing out the otherworldly in clover and grass.

In the artist talk for this show, Vrba describes the states of being an artist and having children as uncomfortable yet beautiful. This discomfort permeates her works, capturing not only a human wonderment toward life, but also the condition of not knowing. There are insurmountable barriers between us and those we love; we can never know them fully, and we are entranced when they surprise us. Such is the relationship between man and nature. No amount of scientific knowledge can diminish the beauty found in small things, the patterns of a moth’s wing, the pigments of a feather, the glow of dusk transforming a landscape you thought you knew. And in that there is comfort.
— Burnaway, Atlanta


"For her debut monograph, Lori Vrba has created a testament to her early introduction into photography as well as a memoir of youth and nature in The Moth Wing Diaries. Growing up in the nature of Southeast Texas, Vrba has translated her childhood memories in nature into 52 images. Upon opening the book, you are greeted with the most delicate of papers, translucent and light to the touch, with veins that will remind you of a moth’s wing.

Vrba describes the collection,

“It is a visual diary of my grown up, conflicted, complicated, rich, womanly, Mother Nature-loving life.”

Each image was taken with film on a medium-format camera and developed in the darkroom, producing a rich sepia-tone that plays with your sense of memory. Vrba takes a medium that is as timeless and delicate as the subject matter she portrays. These are stories of memory, youth, wonder, mystery, and magic.

She describes her inspiration,

“I am inspired by moments that hold contradictions… like a big lightning storm that is really uncomfortable and really beautiful at exactly the same time.”

As I was born and raised in the city, Vrba’s images took me to a place I had never been before but was oddly familiar with – a childhood built in nature where exploration is the daily routine and dreams are as necessary as air. She has imbued every image with a sense of innocence, wonder, and timeless magic while reminding you of the vulnerability of childhood and growing up.

One image that struck me in particular was that of a young girl dressed as a ballerina, poised on a chair, and ready to take off with impossibly large wings at her arms. The image is just one example of how the artist has combined memory and dreams – what child has not experienced the desire to fly through the air and jumped off a chair to feel the sensation?

“whispering stories from a piece of time that mattered to Someone.”

And just as delicately as it began, the book ends with the same delicate paper, and you are reminded that you hold something incredibly precious in your hands. These are images of youth and growing up, entangled with, and at the same time, in harmony with nature. Vrba has created her own time capsule of images into her own life and recollections through The Moth Wing Diaries."

                                                                                                                         -angela chen / one twelve publishing

"the exhibition is closely tied together throughout the space. on entry, vrba's mind's eye hangs above her sign-in book (a vintage ledger from ohio titled record of baggage check forwarded and received).  encountering the images and thoughtful installations as you walk throughout the gallery is something that can only be experienced firsthand, given the three-dimensional quality of much of the exhibition.  one will not only admire the quality of the silver gelatin prints, but also experience a dimension of seeing through round mirrors and magnifying glasses used as portals to reference another dimension of time and space.  you don’t get the idea of the depth of the work from vrba’s website since websites are a place limited in the ability to demonstrate experience or three-dimensional space.  the show at se center for photography is a welcome dimensional surprise.  my technical mind wants to know how vrba managed the reproduction of imagery within or on mirrors, but the aesthetic is consistent and strong enough that i turn off my techno-logical self and think about falling through the space of vrba's portals."

                                                                                                       -polly gaillard for the se center for photography