Laura Craig McNellis was born in 1957 in Nashville, TN, developmentally disabled and autistic – although this last diagnosis would not be made until she was an adult. She began painting at age eight, with her creative activity occurring mostly during the nighttime hours in a bedroom shared with one of her four sisters, of which Laura was the youngest. As a self-taught artist, Laura usually receives her creative stimulation from the familiar objects found in her environment: clothing, food, tools, animals, and buildings.
Characteristically, Laura uses plain and unpretentious materials to create highly sophisticated paintings of everyday things. She has developed a distinctive style of portraying her subject matter, powerfully isolated from its surroundings. Typically present in her paintings is a shining sun, and bold architectural letters as her signature across the bottom. Laura often uses scissors to create cut-outs or to remove negative spaces.