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Meet the Artist: Lauren Levine

Lauren Levine‘s work will show in the Groundwork Gallery as part of the “Ebb and Flow” group exhibition. We asked Lauren to share with us about her creative process, and how she fits her artistic practice into a full life as a mother and muscular therapist.

What materials do you work with?

Typically the paintings I make are oil paint on either stretched canvas for the large pieces, or linen stretched over mounted panel for the small ones. When drawing I prefer a heavy smooth paper surface for charcoals and a variety of other mediums like conte’, pastel and inks.

Tell us about your current body of work. What motivated it?

This work isn’t conceptually different, as I don’t work from any preconceived ideas, but comes out of an evolution of the work and process itself over time. For many years now my paintings have been very atmospheric, painting the invisible, but in this newer work there’s more gravity, solidity. They’ve become heavily elemental. Elemental in the sense of water, earth, wind, fire, and as a storm. Elemental in reference to the building blocks of matter. Elemental as to our basic selves. 

They are also very much about place. Places both physical and psychological, yet not replicas of any location or landscape. Rather, each piece becomes it’s own place and I stand solid in the mud as I gaze in.

How do you integrate art into your life and other responsibilities? Do you work full time as an artist or do you wear other hats?

I definitely wear other hats! I work a couple of days a week as a muscular therapist. I have a family and spend most of the week at home with my 4 year old son. Finding time to be in the studio and really focus on my work is a challenge and a constant balancing act, but honestly I find I am more focused and productive now with less studio time than I ever was before becoming a Mom. Whenever I have a few moments not engaged with something or someone else, I’m thinking about art. I’m writing and drawing in my journals, reading books and articles, looking at images, preparing for the next moments I get to go make some marks. 

How has your art practice evolved over the years?

I think in many ways my practice itself has remained much the same. I am an intuitive painter. I begin with mark making rather than ideas and preliminary sketches. Themes, visual vocabulary, content arise from the making of the work, not the other way around. What’s really changed my practice in recent years is motherhood. After having my son I didn’t make any work for over a year. However, when I began making work again I found that even drawing for 10 minutes yielded greater results both emotionally and artistically than ever before. Getting back to work was so necessary for my sanity and sense of self. Because time was so limited as I got back to work, I began a regular drawing practice. It didn’t require a lot of space, set up or clean up and I could work very quickly. This continued and evolving practice has changed my work profoundly. There’s interplay between the drawings and paintings that inexorably binds their development. I’ve always believed drawing is the basis for all things regardless of any other materials you work with. That belief only deepens the more I draw. 

What or who inspires you?

So much in life inspires me, and one can never tell where that moment will spring from. Looking at others’ work, both online and in person is near the top of the list for sure. We can access so much work and eye candy from our phones every day it can be overwhelming. Sharing the space with the real thing can be a powerful experience, as when I recently saw the Hans Hoffman retrospective at PEM. I’m still processing that show. 

I also listen to a lot of podcasts, mostly about art but I also really love listening to LeVar Burton read stories. I watch studio visits and interviews online. I read books whenever I have time, which isn’t nearly often enough. I get a lot of inspiration from looking around while walking, not talking, in the city, in the woods, on the beach, in the country, abandoned building sites, riding the train. This is where the visual database is filled.

How is community important to you as a practicing artist?

Community is immensely important. We support one another. I know that without my arts community I would be totally isolated as a painter. We share our work, our struggles, our insights, our connections, our failures, and our insecurities. I know I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I have without the generosity of my friends and supporters. I hope to be able to give back what I receive. And now our communities aren’t limited by geography because of social media’s accessibility. My community extends from the East to West Coasts, to Europe, Mexico, Australia, Canada, Japan, all over the world. I’ve been able to connect with people, with artists I would never have been able to otherwise.

Lauren’s work will be on display in the Groundwork gallery March 14 – May 9. Also featured in the show will be work by Mark Phelan. The opening reception will be held at Groundwork on March 14th from 6-9pm, and is free and open to the public.

Want more about the Ebb & Flow exhibit? Meet artist Mark Phelan.

Caitlin Joseph