2nd Place recipient

Grossman, portrait

Lauren Grossman

A graduate of the University of Washington ceramics program, Lauren Grossman works in a variety of media–from porcelain to cast iron to insect-encrusted fiberglass. Her provocative installations and objects wrestle with the ever shifting meanings of Judeo/Christian imagery in contemporary culture.

Since the early eighties, she has done twenty solo shows as well as numerous regional and national group exhibitions. Reviews of her work have appeared in Art In America, Sculpture, American Ceramics, and other periodicals. Her honors include a Flintridge Foundation Award, two Groot Foundation recognition awards, a Seattle Artists Award, and two Kohler Arts/Industry residencies. Howard House Gallery currently represents Lauren in Seattle.

For the last several years, I have been making sculpture and installations engaging the peculiarities of the judeo/christian legacy. The religious images which were once an assumed vocabulary of western visual culture have become strange and a bit archaic, but are still potent. Using everything from levers to artificial hearts, I have found mechanical metaphors particularly suited to thinking about the functions of religion and faith. For the most part, the devices I use are passive, requiring the viewer to actually or mentally complete the system. It is a sort of do-it-yourself approach involving the labor of cranking, pumping, grinding, or simply turning on the gas.

Some of the work cites its sources very directly, physically using the text to create forms. In “Not Consumed”, for example, the lacy structure of the Burning Bush is a passage from Exodus which begins anew on each limb. The bush is grown of its own description. The word becomes flesh. Cast into iron, the story is not easily legible, but words and phrases can be recognized with a little study. Not unlike the source texts of the Bible, the obscure unpunctuated prose on the piece is prone to guessing and misreading.

The materials as well as the allusions in my sculpture have the quality of being well worn. The resins tend to be lumpy, yellowed, and encrusted with insects. The machinery is mostly salvaged industrial scrap, (a dental mold jig, parts of a photostat camera, a car jack…), reconfigured into new devices while still retaining a memory of some former use. The physical evidence of damage and repair adds a sense of history to the reworking of old sources in the light of the present moment.