In The Studio: Lauren Munns

  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today.IMG_4721

I grew up always having a little bit of a creative side, whether it was creative writing, photography or drawing.  In elementary school, I decided that it was my life’s mission to save the manatees from extinction and would paint sea life scenes on boards that I had broken in Tae Kwon Do (the one sport that I wanted to stick to as a kid) and donate the proceeds to the local zoo’s rehabilitation facility.  I went to Florida State University, where I studied Fine Art and graduated with a BFA with a focus in ceramics, and still had a love of drawing. From there, I moved to New York. I wanted to immerse myself in the culture of the city and that’s really where I was able to get back to drawing and really experiment with collage, which is where my work has gravitated to since.

  1. What is your creative process like?

My process is incredibly intuitive, and with series like Extensions, Links or some of my inkblot collages, it’s nearly impossible to plan out.  For me, a messy desk is where I see collage elements fall perfectly… a stack of arms knotted together seamlessly, piles of celebrity updos that take on the forms of swirling masses.  It entails a lot of walking away, returning, adding a piece, walking away, returning and rearranging. The finale of creating these pieces is almost stumbled-upon, that eureka moment when all of the small pieces that I’ve been seeing as shapes and colors come together as a whole.  Recently, there has been more experimentation with scale, seeing how the different shapes interact with larger surface area to cover.

  1. Has there been a shift or change in your life or work that has led to what you’re making now? Do you see your work as autobiographical at all?

When I moved to New York, my hands ached for clay after studying ceramics in school and working on some personal work post-grad.  I decided to go back to drawing and experiment with collage. Making work was what was the most important to me… I just had to create, no matter the amount of space I had.  Now, after moving back to Florida, collage has stuck and is the primary realm of my practice, but I can’t wait to switch on a kiln soon. Although I never intend for my work to be primarily autobiographical, I do notice that color, styling, even the ease of cutting collage bits reflects what is going on in my own life.

  1. Since your work has some basis in what is considered traditionally feminine, has social media and the bombardment of images had an affect your work?

The term “feminine” has definitely evolved over time and elicits something so different in 2019.  I worked for a fashion company while in New York (hello, never-ending supply of collage supplies).  Trends come and go, movements are started everyday. Social media, the news, fashion trends, and all of the imagery available in a single click certainly influence the meaning behind my work.

  1. I like the term “unexpected” for describing your work, there are so many layers to unpack when viewing each piece. What is it you hope a viewer will take away from your work?

I love the transformative nature that some of my work can take on.  For years, I’ve isolated parts of the human body – the detail of a fold behind a knee, the curve of an arm in an embrace, a cowlick – and they become something completely new when placed on the paper.  I feel that my work doesn’t ooze a certain political stance or emit a well-known style of art. So all that I can hope for is that the viewer takes the time to look at every inch of the piece and the parts of the whole that are the focus and heart of my practice, walks away, and is left wondering if they missed something… if maybe a second look could change their entire perspective of the piece.

  1.  Where do you feel art is going?

I feel that many of the artists that I’m following are going back to traditional practices and techniques in that cyclical way that the world works, but at the same time, there are so many resources available to create techniques and work that we couldn’t even imagine was possible ten years ago.  Art is going somewhere VERY exciting, that’s all I can say.

  1. Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?

I’m trying to work larger! And experimenting with combining painting and collage.  I love paintings with heavily textured surfaces, and I’ve done a few small works where these thick surfaces over collage add to the mystery of abstract work.  I also keep a note in my phone of ideas I come up with in the middle of the night, so hopefully one day I’ll remember what “corsets” and “playing cards” mean. Stay tuned!

  1. What advice has influenced you the most?

Never get attached.  It was a rule that so many of my professors taught me in school.  I had these braid drawings my junior year that I dreamed would expand into hundreds of small drawings covering a gallery wall.  They wanted me to cut them up, mark all over them, and I felt like I was going to hyperventilate. I watched my ceramics professor completely smash platters that didn’t glaze the way she would have wished in a completely unpredictable soda kiln fire.  I would have never thought then that these days I could work for hours on a collage and then completely cover it in paint to see if it maybe worked.  But I feel that this lesson so important to keep in the back of your mind.  You could make something great if you just work something good just a little more, even if that means completely destroying and reworking it to the point of no return.  By the way, those braid drawings are now completely cut up and incorporated into some old paintings or drawn all over as ideas for future works.

  1. What are you listening to at the moment?

I’m switching between Art for Your Ear by the Jealous Curator and My Favorite Murder in terms of podcasts, I just finished listening to Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng for a book club and Ariana Grande’s new CD is on repeat.   I’m all over the place.

  1.  What is the silliest piece of knowledge that you have?

I know a ridiculous amount of animal facts, like that manatees can move 30 miles per hour.

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