Briefly describe the work you do.
I work to create a visceral sensation that narrates my bodily space. The human vessel, or in particular “my body” can be portrayed as a complex, grotesque, and yet wonderfully beautiful set of systems. How a bodily experience translates into objects or interacts with materials is my guide to discovering visual imagery. My practice acts to weave together concepts regarding personal space, investigating ideas pertaining to the bodily vessel in a variety of physical, psychological, and metaphysical aptitudes.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Columbus, OH where I completed my BFA with a focus in Ceramics at Ohio State University in 09’. I spent a year studying, teaching, and soaking up New Mexico before completing my MFA with a focus in Ceramics from Virginia Commonwealth University in 13’. I have always enjoyed an intellectual approach to art and culture, and perhaps studied theory a bit too seriously throughout my academic career. I find that what influences my work recently is a parallel daily practice of self-care. I have been dedicated to developing a yoga practice, and spend quite a bit of energy studying and applying various healing arts such as acupressure, deep tissue massage, Alexander technique, reiki, aromatherapy and various other simple holistic cures to my daily life. I feel that the language and visualization involved with these practices can often mirror things I think about in the studio.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
There is something cathartic for me about feeling material move through my hands. I enjoy crafting objects. However, I began to understand during my graduate studies that my practice was rooted in the experiential. I had been creating situations and documenting them for sometime, so turning to my interest in clay and using my body as a site, that dramatically changed how I view the studio. While I still make objects, I feel most of my work can and should be executed out of the traditional artist studio. Working outside or in a more intimate setting changes the energy of working and the acts themselves take very little time. Researching, planning and preparation take the majority of my time.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I think one of the invigorating things about a contemporary practice is embracing how open the field is. I am intrigued by the growing connection between art and health. It has taken time to recognize patterns in my studio practice, and I feel that exploring the body and our personal awareness of our own body is something I have long attempted to voice in my work. My work felt very abstract to me for quite awhile. It is only recently that I began to really connect self-healing techniques with work I was creating in the studio. The possibility of creating a conversation regarding self-awareness in a gallery space is very exciting for me.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I tend to really enjoy working in the mornings, but if I am in the middle of a project I work whenever I possibly can. It has been a year since I have graduated, and am still learning to create a balanced, active studio practice. A friend kindly gave me the wisdom recently to just relax, work slows down dramatically beyond the vigor of a masters program. I also count reading, researching, applying to shows…all of this is part of a practice.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
That’s an interesting question since the last five years have been quite full with the completion of formal academia, and shifting landscapes. I know that a blessing of going through a masters program is learning a certain level of language regarding art and culture. It has been amazing to travel as I have seeing art, learning, sharing ideas, and meeting interesting people. The learning curve was pretty steep for me, and I feel like the journey is just beginning. These last five years helped establish a portfolio and working knowledge of why I do what I do. One of the most significant realizations has been that my undergraduate professor Steve Thurston was correct. We keep making the same things. I come back to the same early catalysts that inspired me probably when I was 3 creating the watercolor that still hangs matted and framed on my Aunts wall. It is a pretty amazing feeling recognizing patterns in your own work.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
I definitely feel that relationships play a big role in my life and practice. My family has been a huge influence in my thinking and growth as an artist. There has been a host of friends that have encouraged and inspired me, and I also have been fortunate to study with some amazing artists. There was a good chunk of time I spent live music bartending in my hometown. Music and musicians I met through the job really helped shape me creatively. There is something I really deeply respect about live performance.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
I feel that my personal life and studio practice enmesh in many ways. The holistic path has always intrigued me. It is my goal to weave together my passion for art and healing arts for a career. It has occurred to me that the bottom line for me is live as creatively as I can on a daily basis, and do my part in sharing what I have learned along the way.
Lauren Brooke Miller (b Columbus, Oh) is a visual artist working to create interactions between the body and a variety of materials and objects. She weaves together concepts regarding our individual space, investigating internal space in a variety of physical, psychological, and metaphysical aptitudes. Lauren earned her MFA in Ceramics from Virginia Commonwealth University. She holds her BFA focused in ceramics from the Ohio State University. She was also fortunate to spend a year teaching and studying at the University of New Mexico. Lauren currently lives and works in Richmond, Va.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.