Artist of the Week: Lauren Clay

Lauren Clay grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta. She received her BFA in painting from Savanah College of Art and Design and her MFA in painting and print making from Virginia Commonwealth University. After graduating VCU, she moved to New York in 2007.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.  My work utilizes the mythology of modernist form and thought as a vehicle for exploring matters of the psyche, metaphysics, perception, and alternate realities. The traditional forms of modernism (such as monochrome painting, the plinth, and the grid) become like characters that play out my personal anxieties and quandaries—both art-historical and existential. By utilizing these forms I am also addressing the trappings of historical context.

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How did your interest in art begin?  I come from a family of artists, obsessive craftspeople, and do-it-yourself-ers. Just in my immediate family alone you will find a photographer, a musician, a potter, a flint-knapper, a seamstress, a conceptual artist, a soap maker, a couple of carpenters, a stained glass artist, and a spoon carver. We like to make stuff. When I was growing up, our house was full of projects and I’ve always felt very comfortable making things.  Early on I began to lean towards drawing and painting. I went on to get both my BFA and MFA in painting.

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What kinds of things are influencing your work right now?Lately I’ve been making a series of large wall pieces. I’ve been thinking of them as big fat shaped monochromes. They are dimensional and have a very layered, textured surface— further confusing and questioning the support’s ability to exist as both object and image.

In these works I’ve been exploring the idea of the painting support as a non-image, and the surface as non-painting. They are all about transformation, and flatness versus physicality. Paintings in an existential crisis.

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What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Right now I am preparing for a small solo show at Grounds for Sculpture, a sculpture park outside of New York. The show is part of a series of exhibitions featuring emerging artists. For the show I am making a body of work based on David Smith’s Cubi series. 

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How has your work developed within the past year?Lately my work has changed a lot. My past work consisted mostly of sculptures assembled from smaller objects. Currently I’ve been making work that has a more focused dialogue with painting, and drawing less on outside references for imagery. I am more interested in pattern, texture, and faux surfaces.

What artists are you interested in right now?  Ken Price, Franz West, Imi Knoebel.

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What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? Zach Harris at Zach Feuer Gallery that just opened this month.

What are you really excited about right now? Recently I discovered through a friend’s recommendation the writings of Carlos Castaneda. I am totally fascinated with his descriptions of altered states of reality through the use of shamanistic practices and plant-based hallucinogens, as taught to him by a native Mexican man of the Yaqui tribe. There is a lot of skepticism and mystery surrounding his writings. Whether it’s fiction or fact, doesn’t really interest me, as there is so much truth and symbolism to be gleaned from his writing.

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If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? If I didn’t make visual art I would probably write fiction…

Favorite music? 60’s acid rock, and folk. Lately lots of Grateful Dead, The Zombies, T.Rex, 13th Floor Elevators, Neil Young, Joni Mitchel. Etc…