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Dec 1, 2015

Proud Westerners - Laura Greenwood '04: Exploring through her lens

Laura Greenwood's determination has led her across the world and back again using her art to capture the world in which she lives. And it all began here at WTC.

Seemingly a little reserved at first, once going, WTC alumna Laura Greenwood is unstoppable. When asked what she thought most people would find surprising about her personality, her response was “the courage to get up and go once my mind is made up.”  Throughout her life, this theme repeats itself over and over.

The second of four children, Laura’s family was like many families of West Texas in that her father worked in the oil industry. When she was seven, he was transferred and the family moved to the “suburbs of Dunn,” a small town south of Snyder, Texas. Here, Laura became intimately familiar with the beauty found in West Texas and the power of creating art.  

Laura is an artist, currently working primarily through the medium of photography. However, unlike the Michelangelos or Beethovens of the world, her talent didn’t come naturally – but the drive to create was there. Her art classes at Snyder High School allowed her to dabble in different mediums and piqued her curiosity to pursue art at the college level.

With three siblings, affordability of college was a high priority.   Having already taken dual credit courses at Western Texas College in high school, Laura knew WTC would meet her needs financially, as well as academically. In addition, she was able to test out of classes she didn’t need, but more importantly, she was able to focus on her art with teachers and fellow students who continue to inspire her to this day.

Laura describes her two years at WTC as “living in the art building” where she was able to explore a wide variety of art forms including ceramics, drawing, painting, and of course, photography. She has fond memories of Shane Christensen's inexplicable knack of tying Ren and Stimpy cartoons to lessons about historical art, in a way that made perfect sense. Her painting professor, Ben Sum, forever immortalized Laura at WTC by using her as a model in the mural currently located in the WTC dining hall. These years are marked in her memory as years of exploration and refining techniques that prepped her for what was to come after: four year college and life after school.

Having received multiple scholarships at WTC and with the school so conveniently located near home, Laura left WTC debt free, graduating Magna Cum Laude with an Associate in Arts degree.  Determined to continue her studies in photography, she enrolled in the Fine Arts Photography Program at Texas State University, only one of two programs in the state of Texas. 

Laura explains that her training at WTC allowed her time to “grow up” and prepare her for her upper level courses at Texas State. It also allowed her to refine her focus and learn that there is “patience in depth.” She chose to specialize in alternative photography – old processes created in the dark room, such as tintype and argyrotype. This old fashioned photography allows her the hands-on connection to her artwork which she finds so satisfying. She explains, “There’s a science behind the process and you're physically and emotionally connected to what you’re creating along the way.”

Laura's eye for photography and thirst for adventure has carried her around the world. Following graduation, she lived in Austin for five years where she displayed her work in various shows, won multiple awards, and joined a group of fellow artists in renovating a downtown gallery space. After being laid off from her job during an economic recession, Laura, seeing opportunity instead of disaster, grabbed her camera and bought a one way plane ticket to Australia and later to New Zealand.  For almost three years she reveled in unexpected adventure, natural beauty and culture. “Ever since I wrote a report in the 4th grade, I wanted to travel to Australia and discover the ‘romance’ of the Outback,” Laura explained, "I just needed that initial push out the door to make that dream a reality."   

Laura made her way across continents by working a series of temporary jobs with travel in-between.  She developed new skills and tested her spirit learning to build roads in a front-end loader with tires taller than she was, living and working for months in a mining camp in the Australian outback, and working her way up to a supervisory position on a lettuce and broccoli farm in New Zealand.  After saving up enough money, the real adventure would begin: living in a station wagon as she crisscrossed the Australian continent.  Her wandering cultivated a newfound wonder of these vast landscapes and the ocean through snorkeling, hiking and camping across New Zealand for almost six months straight, covering over 600 miles on foot.  “Travelling is my biggest accomplishment” she proclaims, and her photography proves it. With her camera clicking furiously, her memories are marked with unforgettable images.

Having since returned to West Texas, photography is at the forefront of her activities. Engaged in the dark room, she is currently challenging herself to learn carbon printing and to perfect her lith printing skills in order to create a body of work capable of winning art grants to afford her to continue traveling and bringing attention to environmental and social injustice. As shown through her determination up until this point, this WTC alum will make it happen!

You can view a selection of Laura’s work here https://www.behance.net/artcometstudios or stop by the Scurry County Museum gift shop.  

All four Greenwood siblings graduated with Associate degrees from Western Texas College. Ryan Greenwood, ’01, Associate of Art in the Turfgrass Land Management Program and Master Gardener’s Certificate; Laura Greenwood, ’04, Associate of Arts, Amanda Greenwood, ’04, Associate of Arts, and William Greenwood, ’09, Associate in Science in Agriculture.

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