Lauren Kalman is a visual artist whose practice is invested in contemporary craft, video, photography and performance. Through her work she investigates beauty, adornment, body image, value, and consumer culture. Raised in the Midwest, Kalman completed her MFA in Art and Technology from the Ohio State University and earned a BFA with a focus in metals from the Massachusetts College of Art. She has been awarded residencies at the Corporation of Yaddo, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Santa Fe Art Institute. In addition she has received Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, Puffin Foundation West and ISE Cultural Foundation grants.
Kalman exhibits and lectures internationally. Her work had been featured in exhibitions at the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Craft, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the deCordova Museum. Her video work has been screened in several international film festivals. Her photographs and objects are part many private collections as well as the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum of Art. Her works have been featured in many texts including Hand + Made: The Performative Impulse in Contemporary Craft published by the Contemporary Art Museum Houston, and 40 Under 40: Craft Futures published by the Renwick Gallery and Yale University Press.
She has taught at institutions including Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI. Currently she is an Assistant Professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.
My work focuses on the creation, documentation, and display of sculpture, adornment, photographs, video, and performance. Through my work, I bring to light uncomfortable connections in visual culture between body image, media, class, and style.
Through my work I investigate how the pursuit of human beauty has left its mark on the body. Today bodily ideals are sought after through the use of objects and materials placed on and over the skin. The act of covering and adding to the body transforms it from a natural state toward an icon of perfection. In my work, I investigate jewelry, objects, and garments as agents of this transformation.
Skin is the body’s interface with the world, and has been one of the focuses of my work. It serves as protection for the body and as a signifier of the internal conditions of the body. The surface of the body, often represents the body as a whole because it is the most visible part of the body. Blushing, rashes, blemishes and sores are visual signals of the unseen. This language of the external is not definitive. Marks and contortions on the exterior of the body can have multiple meanings. A reddening of the face can project either internal dysfunction or arousal. These multiple meanings are often reflected in contemporary ideals and images, which mimic ailments such as extreme thinness and replicate expressions of pain in sexually explicit advertising. In these presentations, the ideal and the ill or abnormal merge.
Diseases like acne, cancer, herpes, and elephantiasis, or physical trauma like amputation and facial reconstruction surgery, are presented as jeweled infections, fabric growths, or wearable electronic instruments. They are hybrids of the grotesque or undesirable aspects of the body and objects we associate with beauty, status, health, wealth or power.
I have had a lot of help over the years and I would especially like to thank my family, Janice Kalman, Jeffery Kalman and Justin Kalman for their ongoing support, as well and the crew of Kalman & Pabst Photo Group for all of their help and advice.
Lauren Kalman is a visual artist whose practice is invested in installation, video, photography and performance. Through her work she investigates perspectives of beauty, body image, value, and consumer culture. Raised in the Midwest, Kalman completed her MFA in Art from the Ohio State University and earned a BFA with a focus in metals from the Massachusetts College of Art. She has taught at institutions including Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI. She currently lives in Detroit and is a Professor at Wayne State University. She exhibits and lectures internationally. Her work had been featured in exhibitions at venues including the Centro Cultural Recoleta, Museum of Contemporary Craft, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, and the deCordova Museum. Her video work has also been screened in several international film festivals. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Smithsonian Musuem of American Art among others and her work is currently on exhibit in Multiple Exposures at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York and will be featured in the upcoming Body Embellishment at The Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The social implications of visual and material culture deeply interest me. I am invested in the fields of craft and art because as material culture, they suggest cultural histories, beliefs, values, and ideas that may contradict or inform written history. I believe in studio-based practices because they enable artists to interrogate ideas in ways that are researched and critical, yet speculative and open to a range of often unexpected outcomes. My own studio practice is in many ways discipline specific, and is rooted in an examination of jewelry and luxury goods as its subject. I am interested in the possibilities of working within the conditions that frame the discipline of Jewelry & Metalsmithing, and in mining the history, objects and subjects embedded in the field as content. What interests me about working within these limitations are the possibilities for reconsidering ideas within the field in an expanded way. While my subject is discipline specific, my research is a synthesis of ideas from a range of disparate disciplinary inquiries, enabling me to consider specific ideas from an expansive vantage point.