LAUREN MABRY

UPCOMING AND RECENT EXHIBITIONS

 

SELECTED PAST EXHIBITIONS

Lauren Mabry Artist Portrait

ABOUT LAUREN MABRY

(b. 1985, Madison, WI, lives and works in Philadelphia, PA)

Lauren Mabry is recognized internationally for her bold, dynamic glazes and inventive use of material, color, and form. Her ceramic vessels, objects, and dimensional paintings embrace experimentation as a way to question the boundary between abstract painting, minimalist sculpture, and process art.

Mabry is the recipient of individual grants from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the Independence Foundation, and the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts  Emerging Artist Award, and she has worked at the Jingdezhen International Studio in China and the Gaya Ceramic Art Center in Bali, Indonesia.

Mabry has shown in numerous institutions including the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, (Omaha, NE), Fuller Craft Museum (Brockton, MA) and Milwaukee Art Museum, (Milwaukee, WI), and her work is included in the collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, (Kansas City, MO), Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, (Sedalia, MO), Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, (Overland Park, KS), and Sheldon Museum of Art, (Lincoln, NE).

In 2007, Mabry completed her BFA from Kansas City Art Institute, and she received her MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2012. Mabry is represented by Pentimenti, (Philadelphia, PA), and Ferrin Contemporary.

MORE ON LAUREN

ON HER WORK

I make ceramic vessels, objects, and dimensional paintings by combining traditional and experimental methods with clay and glaze. I investigate materiality though experimentation that is driven by my fascination with color, visual movement, and the transformative nature of ceramics. Primarily my work communicates directly, through its formal and aesthetic qualities, but it may also be understood in relationship to abstract painting, minimal work, and Process Art. Surface is often the focal point of my work, and therefore the forms I make are a reaction to how a glaze performs. My goal is to create dynamic compositions that push the boundaries of how these materials are perceived. Because I strive to keep my work as playful as it is scientific, the things I make exist where haphazard sketching meets the accuracy of chemistry. The rich, flowing glazes create hypnotic tones, textures, and forms which aim to please and bewilder.


ON HER PROCESS

My work is predicated on a research-driven practice that investigates the history of color theory and material experimentation: to this end, I treat the vessel as a canvas, while accounting for the painful and difficult hierarchies that have kept both women artists and ceramics as a medium historically excluded from the realm of painting and sculpture. Ceramics has long been mistreated as a low art form, and it is my goal to elevate its painterly qualities through a deep and ongoing exploration of surface treatments through pigmentation, glaze chemistry, an understanding of structure and substrates, including underglazing, monoprint transfer, and glaze application, buttressed by a daily drawing practice in which mark making finds its way onto the layers and embedded into the surfaces of my vessels and sculptural constructions. My goal is to create dynamic compositions that push the boundaries of how ceramic materials have been historically perceived. The rich, flowing glazes create hypnotic tones, textures, and forms, and I aim to change the nature of the technical questions craftspeople often get: “how did you do that?” to instead “why did you do that?”

The German-born abstract painter Hans Hofmann utilized “push pull” as a phrase to describe intersecting and overlapping surfaces and geometries upon his own canvases as a means of creating pictorial space, full of expanding and contracting forces. I am particularly taken with the investigates of materiality though historical abstract expressionism like Helen Frankenthaler as well as the color theory that entered American art schools through Josef Albers and other Bauhaus-trained artists.  However, I am conscious of the need to interrogate the historical absences of ceramics from these modes of expression. My experimentation is driven by my fascination with color, visual movement, and the transformative nature of ceramics. Primarily, my work communicates directly through its formal and aesthetic qualities by utilizing processes that exploit the intrinsic qualities of ceramic materials. The results are expressive, bold, and often dichotomous: haphazard yet highly calculated.


ON NATURE/NURTURE

As a young woman, I was emboldened to embrace my natural strengths – an independent, competitive spirit, believing that I could achieve whatever I set out to do. Born with a gift and a drive, I have made it this far because I have been nurtured by many strong women in my life, starting with my mother who always encouraged me to follow my passion for art. Along the way, my female educators never hesitated to push me even when I was struggling – Jane Shellenbarger, Cary Esser, Sanam Emami, Gail Kendall, and Margaret Bohls. My career has been continuously shaped by females, gallerists, and curators like Leslie Ferrin and Catherine Futter, who create exhibition opportunities, connections, and help put my work in important collections. Of equal importance are the many women artists who, although I haven’t known personally, have influenced my voice a great deal – Betty Woodman, Viola Frey, Karen Massaro, Lynda Benglis and many more. I am so grateful to have all of these women who have led by setting the example.