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American image maker Laura Hendricks, known on Instagram as @hav_house, combines her images to create new, ethereal landscapes. Now that the Internet has given us access to a vast gallery of imagery, Laura believes you need that extra edge to stand out. She achieves this by adding a touch of the impossible to her landscapes, combining two opposing environments like the desert and the sea to form a magical and otherworldly collage.

Although the majority of her images contain two separate elements, when combined, they seem entirely believable – making you, as a viewer, double take. For Laura Hendricks, this is an essential element of her work; she aims to create art that takes the viewer outside his or her ‘box of understanding.’ Laura Hendricks’s series Not That It Needs It is filled with soft pastel hues and vibrant sunsets. We are transported into a world that we forget is our own. METAL discusses with Laura the meaning behind this series and her life as a travel photographer.

Firstly, please introduce yourself – you mainly take pictures, but then also create collages. Would you consider yourself a photographer or an image maker?
I live in the American West with my artist husband, Havoc Hendricks, who I share a studio with. I love being outside, am obsessed with New York City, and I listen to rap and hip hop while I edit photos. I definitely consider myself an image maker. I’ve always thought of myself as an artist whose medium happens to be photography.
What are the daily influences to you and your art?
I’m really influenced by brands and by other artists (no matter the medium) who have a very specific and consistent style. I find myself scrolling through their online shops, websites, Instagrams, Tumblrs, etc. and taking inspiration from their extremely clear perspective.
Your digital collages beautifully combine elements from two separate environments. Why did you decide to manipulate the photos in this way? Why not simply leave the image in its original singular state?
The Earth is amazing as it is, but with the Internet creating access to so much beautiful imagery, I strive to create something extra amazing, even if by just a little bit. My current series is called Not That It Needs It, meaning, these places don’t need manipulation, but a little-added magic doesn’t hurt either.

Your images often contain both ocean and desert, two opposing landscapes. Are your images about creating the impossible?
Not so much about the impossible, it’s more about discovery. A lot of the time I create an image that seems impossible to me, but then someone will tell me that it reminds them of a place they’ve travelled to. It just goes to show that we all have so much more to explore and discover – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc.
What is it that draws you to these vast, empty spaces?
Nothing gives me perspective quite like a vast, empty, landscape! I feel smaller, the world feels bigger, and all of a sudden I’m reminded that very few things are truly important.
When in the desert, have you ever felt scared, lost or lonely? Similarly, describe a moment where you saw nature at its most frighteningly beautiful. 
Not lost or lonely, but I’ve definitely felt scared at times. A few months ago I was hiking to the top of a mesa in the Southern Utah desert, to get a more aerial view to photograph. The hike was pretty treacherous and exhausting, and when I finally reached the top, the view was one of the most beautiful sights I’d ever seen. After twenty minutes or so, I noticed cougar paw prints in the sand all around me. Knowing that I was potentially alone with a cougar, on a narrow ledge high up on a mesa, scared the hell out of me.

How important is the idea of ‘otherworldliness’ to your artwork?
It’s important in the sense that I hope to create work that is ‘other-than-your-own-personal-world’. Whether the viewer is a world traveller or someone who’s never left their town, I hope my artwork is at least a little bit outside of their box of understanding.
I see a hint of Turner and the Romantic concept of ‘sublime’ in your work. Do you ever see God within the natural landscape? 
I definitely see and feel an overwhelming influence of other-than, bigger-than, etc. I don’t know the cosmic details, but I do love and appreciate this sublime experience.
As we can see, nature – be it animals or landscapes – is the main subject of your work. Do you ever plan on doing portraits? Or urban landscapes?
Yes, I can see myself doing some urban landscape collage work sometime in the future. I’ve been slowly gathering ideas and inspiration for that type of series. For now though, I’m going to continue having nature as the main subject because it’s been so rewarding.

Why the decision to create these collages digitally, rather than using the hand/scissor approach?
I actually do both! I typically take photos, print them, cut them up, and then pair them together. Once I find combinations I’m happy with I will create those same collages digitally, using the same two (sometimes three) photographs.
The collages are so well done, they look real and entirely believable. What is your intention when confusing the viewer’s first impressions?
Being able to confuse the viewer’s first impression is rewarding in and of itself! If I can get someone to do a double take for any reason, I’m happy.
And finally, how do you want these images to make us feel?
Ideally, you feel those feelings you have when you experience something beautiful.

Emma Phillips

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