Read Lauren’s interview and you will leave feeling instantly connected, witnessed, and valued. She speaks to the importance of creation (for survival and understanding the world), the importance of connection (to reap the benefits of vulnerability and patience), and the importance of being truly yourself (to better serve the ones you love). We adored getting to know her and her work this month, and know you will too <3
I’d love to start off this interview with an emphatic welcome to 2022 and the new beginnings it will bring us. Your first art show of the year is in your hometown of Palm Beach, Florida– congratulations! How do you feel about bringing your work back to your hometown? In moments like these, I find it hard not to reflect on where we began and how we’ve grown. Can you share with us a bit about where you began, and how you’ve grown to be the artist you are today?
Absolutely we can start there and you are right its only fitting. So much of what’s happening in my career and in my personal life feels like a lot of new beginnings but in a way that pays homage to where I have been. I’ve always been creating in my life. It started as a little girl sitting around my grandmother's kitchen table to attending a middle school and high school for the arts. It was in high school that my love for the arts took on a whole new role for myself. Unfortunately, my senior year of high school I made a bit of a mess of my life and didn’t graduate with the rest of my class. I spent many years embarrassed about this fact, this part of my life. Immediately after high school I had my son Dylan at 19 and Keegan at 20. My children changed my life. They helped nurture the seeds that were already there, and over time I grew into myself. That was really what my solo show in West Palm was about it was a homecoming, a rebirth. It was about shedding parts of myself and planting my roots deeper into this person I have become. Having a show surrounded by family members, friends from my childhood and even my high school art teachers was honestly indescribable. The opening felt surreal, and life changing. Being a working artist these last 9 years have been nothing short of a challenge, but an exciting challenge. During that time Keegan was diagnosed with autism. I was figuring out in my early 20s and still to this day how to be the best advocate for him and to continuously check myself and others around me on our at times learned ableist tendencies. I got divorced and became a single mom. Trying to juggle this need and desire to create for my own mental health but also for our survival. It was these moments and many more that pushed me deeper into creating. It has lent a hand to how I feel about my work, why I paint what I paint and the desire to paint in the first place.
The people you depict in your art have such emotion. They are imbued with strength in each stroke, shrouded by flora in bright shades, earth-toned patterns, or enveloped in smooth, neutral planes. A consistent theme in your work is the face: home of the eyes, “the window to the soul,” handler of smirks, tears, and laughter, the non-verbal communication messenger board. What calls to you about this part of the human body, and why do you find yourself focusing on this in your artwork?
It’s funny because I was just discussing this with my boyfriend not too long ago. Growing up my medium of choice was charcoal, or pencil. I was a drawer first and didn’t always enjoy painting. Let alone painting or drawing figures. For me now as I have looked more inward in my life the face, the figure has become a necessary focus for my work. Intrigued by people’s stories but mostly their spirituality. I struggle with the eyes in almost every painting and I even did as a child. I also think about my own struggle with looking others in the eyes and I think that’s connected to the fact that I feel things on a very deep level. To look at someone in the eyes in a nonsuperficial way is to see them. I think seeing people the way and how they truly are can be an emotionally heavy thing. I feel like I get to see people in my work in a way that feels both safe but also in a very vulnerable way.
Parenthood, though arduous at times (oh, we can’t boil anything down to a single word and speak to its fullness!) feels like an incessant request for life. To get up for someone, to create a space for them in the world, to give them the sweet treat on a summer day and the warmest hugs in the wintertime; it’s the feedback loop of life that we are giving and receiving all at the same time. Have you experienced motherhood in surprising ways as you’ve grown professionally? What are a few special ways your kids uplift you as an artist and as a mother?
I think motherhood has been the greatest gift in my life. I think what it has offered myself and my practice is a more gracious perspective on life and creating. My eldest who is 13 is very much like me. There is a softness about him but he can also be very hard and truly is not down for the BS moments this life has to offer at times. He has taught me about perseverance and dedication. He is my firstborn and the one that in many ways woke me up. It was in that, that I found clarity in my work. Keegan on the other hand taught me patience, grace and understanding. To have a child with autism you have to be patient and it forces you in many ways to strip down the ideas we had of motherhood and just how people think and maneuver in general. I think I would be an artist whether I had children or not. However, my children have given my work more of a voice that I don’t if I would have found at all or found as quickly as I have. This last show Dylan was able to come with me and of course there were moments where he was completely bored and also overwhelmed by the amount of people but it was his eventual ease about the night and his cool guy teenage ways that encouraged me most of all. There was this moment towards the end of the night where he had his sunglasses on and a woman walked in with her dog. He immediately was in the middle of this beautiful gallery sitting on the floor playing with this woman’s dog. I think it was just the ease of his transition and the innocence of his approach and demeanor that I found so encouraging and also challenging. I want to be more like him, to surrender and decide to fully embrace moments in my life. Being their mother has allowed me to be my absolute best truest self.
Whether or not you’re a fan of New Year’s resolutions (we’re not!), January inevitably brings with it the sentiment of renewal, a clean slate, and a chance to begin again. Do you have any renewed commitments you’ve made to yourself for the coming year? Can you share with us any ways you will be prioritizing yourself and your happiness 2022?
I am not one for resolutions but I do find I love making dream goals for myself. They have no real time limit but just things I think I am capable of achieving whether it be for my career, in parenting or ways I will nurture and pour into myself. For one my little family and I will be relocating from Cleveland Ohio to Phoenix AZ and I can not wait! To be in a warm place again that we can just let go and feel the warmth year round. The boys and I loved our time in Florida and I miss having a backyard and a space for Keegan to really just have some freedom and find some liberation in being naked outside if he wants to or jumping all day long on his trampoline. Choosing this place this moment to pick up and move feels like the right step forward to put myself and my children’s needs first. Like my butt will be grilling all the time again, and painting outside and just doing the thing I love which is also hiking and camping! Oh man the trails that will be hiked and the places the kids and I will get to camp at have me so freaking excited about this next chapter in our life.