Updated: Oct 30, 2018
Lauren Altman is crossing junctions and moving forward into contemporary art professionalism.
In her work Altman explores personal archives of memory, using photography, video and mixed-media. "Seams Hold Us Together" one of Altman's recent pieces, clearly convey her artistic style both influenced from her study of art and design. I had the opportunity to interview Altman, just before she is heading for her upcoming residency in the Centre For The Study of Sub-structured Loss in London.
You studied both design and art, do you feel it gives you an advantage while in the creative process of conceiving and practicing your art?
That’s a good question. I think studying both design and art taught me that there are so many ways to create and interpret visual forms. When I approach a project, I am aware that the language of graphic design, for example, delivers content differently than the language of photography. My studies encouraged me to work across these disciplines. So much can happen in a work when multiple images, materials, and forms are in dialogue.
During my BFA in communication design, I learned about composition, symbolism, and how to visually convey information. In Seams Hold Us Together, a recent project which began during my MFA in interdisciplinary studio art, I laid the seams I cut from clothing on top of photographic paper and exposed them to light to make photograms. The work is about my reinterpretation of a seam, but it’s also about composition, line, and abstraction—all of which I learned in my foundation-level design classes at Parsons.
In your work there is a focus on personal memory, can you explain a bit how that works and why you choose the topic of memory?
By using clothes to make art, an old sweater draped over a hanger can transform into something beyond my own attachment to it. About six years ago, when my mother passed away, I brought her clothing back with me from Minneapolis to my apartment in Brooklyn. At first, I attempted to wear the garments, but they felt so out of place on me. They were so distinctly hers. Every time I pushed aside the hangers that held her pants to find my own, I began to think of this clothing as material evidence of the body, the personality, and the day-to-day life of the person who once wore it. The project, Ribs, was inspired by this notion of a piece of clothing as an artifact. I used an ultrasound machine to create images of a cable-knit sweater. Rather than using the device to see the interior of a body, I created images of the clothing that had once adorned one.
You recently received your MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, can you share how is the experience of transitioning to the art world from university?
During those few years as a student, I did research, tried out ideas, made work that spoke to me and also found out what doesn’t, and received feedback. With all of that valuable experience behind me, I plan to continue to pursue my practice in Brooklyn. Since graduation, I participated in group shows at David Nolan Gallery in Chelsea as well as at LIC Arts Open’s gallery at The Factory in Long Island City. I’m also working on a collaboration with a jewelry line and preparing to exhibit my work at Superfine!, an art fair taking place in Miami in December.
In 2017 you attended a residency in Chennai, India, how did the opportunity came up and what was the experience like?
The opportunity came up by chance. I heard about it through the South Asia Center at Penn. While in Chennai, our residency hosts connected us to artists, writers, performers, journalists, and educators and exposed us to how the arts operate in Chennai. I think that through these conversations and exchanges in the residency, I learned to think more deeply about my art and to approach it thoughtfully. The program took place in the summer between the first and second years of my MFA, so the experience definitely influenced the work I made in my final year.
This artist introduction and interview was curated by Shally Zucker for Artqol.