I recently sat down with artist Lauren Feece to talk about her newest body of work, which is on display at One Strange Bird. Feece has shown works made in collaboration with her husband, Chris Silva, at One Strange Bird's old location in Humbolt Park. Feece's current body of work combines found materials, painting, and portraiture to create colorful images that show the magic in everyday life.
JE: When did you start making art and what were some of the influences you had?
LF: My mom was my art teacher from kindergarten through eight grade, so art was there as early as i can remember. I think that even as a baby I was making art. I just can’t remember a time when I didn’t have artistic inclinations.
When I was very young Art became a part of my part of my identity and my relationships. In my relationship with my mom and also in relationship with my husband. Chris [Silva] and have worked hard to include art into our married life. We collaborate on projects and pieces but also inspire and allow each other to continue individually creating.
JE: And then you went to art school?
LF: I went to a small school, a liberal arts college, but my major was in art and I got my Bachelors Of Fine Arts with painting as a concentration.
JE: I was looking through your earlier and it seems as though you were using some of the same ideas then. Like floral patterns and having graphic layers to your paintings.
LF: For a long time in college I was just learning how to work with materials. It was at the very end of my studies when I was starting to feel like I was finding a direction and it had to do a lot with old photographs.
I’ve always looked through my families old photographs. I found a lot of comfort in that experience and realized that it was an interesting thing to think about as a painter. How a snapshot taken quickly to remember a special day could become a painting with layers of meaning. Elements of this idea have always stayed in my work, especially layering. I’ve gotten so obsessive about layering in my new work.
JE: And now you have this new body of work that has come about. You are still using some similar techniques, but there was a shift. Was there something that happened to change your work, any single experience?
LF: Absolutely! This is the first new work Ive done since pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering. Those experiences have changed me. I feel a great strength and confidence in my imagery and my life that just wasn't there before.
JE: We talked about this a little when you were installing, but you have one piece in particular called “Wedding Hair,” the piece that is a brunette woman that has all this coral in her hair and I remember you saying that it was what you wanted your hair to look like in your wedding. Are all the women that you paint meant to be you?
LF: I paint a lot of people often I realize I'm painting something about my self or my relationships. That doesn't mean the people look like me though. They just capture an essence of something I feel or am at that moment. But the piece your asking about, Wedding Hair, was a conscious self portrait. I needed to understand things for my wedding day and my transition into married life. Making that painting was part of that understanding. It felt very magical.
JE: What is your relationship to magic? Or the magic that is working with your paintings?
LF: I’m all for it. I think the word magic has gotten a bad reputation. Art making seems like magic to me. I tend to think of magical things as practical things. Like the idea energy attracts a similar energy is a basis of my magical understanding. Nature feels very magical to me. That magical way of understanding nature inspires my work.
JE: And you have so many materials that you use. I think that was one of the things that I noticed in this body of work that you are using so many natural objects. What is the relationship between your paintings and those objects?
LF: Natural objects, coral feathers stones,etc. fill my house and studio. I think they are simply beautiful but they also inspire me to remember magic and many other important things. I usually make little altar areas with them. Lately I’ve been making a painting inspired by these elements and creating an altar around the painting.
JE: I’d love to know more about these altars that you are creating.
LF: When I was in school a friend of mine got me into Suzi Gablik, who wrote a lot of art criticism, including this lesser known book called Living the Magical Life. She was one of the people that got me into altars, and in a really strange way, through art criticism. I just needed to know that a very intellectual women could be spiritual. I had come from a very religious background and had been scared by it. Once I accepted that altar making was a part of taking back my own spiritual identity I became obsessed with them. Learning about altars and connecting with them has been a wonderful thing for me.
JE: And, as a last question, do you have any art advice that you would pass onto young artists out there?
LF: I guess what my parents taught me about making art is worth while to pass on, I always try to remember it, and I want my daughter to learn it: love what you do! The best things happen when you genuinely love what your making.
Join us this Saturday, May 26th, from 6:00-9:00 for the opening reception of Lauren Feece's new work as well as the Grand Re-Opening for One Strange Bird!
For more of Lauren's work, check out here website below: