Lauren Ball

I create work from the perspective of a third generation Italian-American female. I was raised in a single-parent household above my mother’s ice cream parlor in 1980s Bridgeport, a predominantly Italian-American neighborhood located south of downtown Chicago. By the 1990s, we moved into an apartment building overlooking Grant Park and The Art Institute of Chicago, where I made weekly visits to the Impressionist and Modern galleries that would continue throughout my BFA studies at SAIC. Drawn to themes of 19th and 20th century French painting such as Odilon Redon’s lamp-lit florals, Edouard Vuillard’s intimist works, and Rene Magritte’s mystery of the ordinary, I sought to co-opt their languages by exploring domestic social constructs from a female perspective. I became enamored with the still life genre, and quickly took to representational painting using everyday objects, found photographs, and nostalgic ephemera as my entry points.

I was first introduced to the practice of collection, arrangement, and display through my Aunt Penelope’s mid-twentieth century American quilt collection and the Asian art objects within my grandmother's curio cabinet - the combination of the two sparked my interest in the narrative-potential of an inanimate world. My early socialization was mired in a patriarchal structure dominated by a culture of secrecy. Emotion and environment became interchangeable contexts. Elevators were portals, curio cabinets were monoliths, apartments were hidden chambers housing decorative environments, and basement storage cages were shadowy shrines revealing textured peeks of items worth saving. Urban multi-dwelling structures provided my early associations with spiritual and material culture, socioeconomic frameworks, and psychology. My work invokes a preoccupation with memory in the domestic context; my process is inspired through craftsmanship and a dedication to the concepts of both epic and modest painting.

The simplification of everyday objects and their environments into singular, contemplative color forms in Photoshop provide the source imagery to create inkjet acetate collages, layering traces of the original image throughout the silhouettes. The collage becomes the blueprint for a painted portraiture containing a confabulation of domestic imagery, embodying the layered and decorative spaces reminiscent of apartment and city living. In recent work Golden Remnants, I would like the viewer to experience these flickering forms both symbolically and emotionally, akin to Redon’s butterflies. These themes re-emerge as abstract paintings consisting of surfaces that have been built up, sanded down, and poured, while superimposed silhouettes, or aspects of which, resurface. The palette is derived from direct observation and continues to reference plein air painting. My goal in painting is to free the subject from a discernible context, to inspire a psychological response from my audience, and to lighten my hand, allowing the process to tread into a captivating realm of picture making.