Joan Mitchell Foundation
Emerging Artist Grants Catalog, 2016-2017
Lauren Davies works with material relationships that reference the perilous foundations of our current social instability. Assembled in various states of unfurling are textures of industry and domestic interiors: tapestries, plywood, concrete, plastic. A trained sculptor working with photography and installation, Davies's work deconstructs "the global economy, obsolete American manufacturing, and life in the Rust Belt." By the end of the Reagan years, the Rust Belt had declined into what the Dust Bowl had been decades earlier - a geographical area struggling with devastation and economic abjection.
"The Rust Belt's industrial demise feels very apparent when driving around in this region - so many visual moments underscore the area's economic change, and in many cases, collapse and abandonment. Much of this feels linked to Trump's quickly unraveling campaign promises of bringing jobs back to the region and bolstering the lives of those in Coal Country."
The historical narrative of decline, disconnection, and undoing is embedded in Davies's material choices, and the manner in which these works remain arranged and layered. By working with cheap and available materials, Davies continues an art historical tradition delineated by Marcel Duchamp, and culminated in the early 1960's paintings by Richard Artschwager, in which consumer-grade construction materials challenged the role and purity of the canvas. When Davies installs a photographic tapestry showing a decrepit factory printed by the nearest Walmart, not only is the barrier between what is shown and what is the material erased, it is also a self-contained criticism of the current global market.
- Patricia Silva, 2018
Download of complete catalog available here.
Lauren Davies at Ampersand
Art in America, June 2007
Lauren Davies' recent exhibition, titled "Dominion," consisted of eight three-dimensional works and a pair of large, unframed digital prints on canvas replicating antique French maps of Africa. Petting Zoo/Pongo (2005) and Ivory Products (2006), the two largest works, are homemade display cases with contents that look as if they are awaiting completion as natural-history museum dioramas by momentarily absent makers. The objects within are of an enigmatic character, a quality enhanced by their juxtaposition to each other; among them are grapefruit-sized stones partially covered with spray-foam snow, animal tusks carved from bars of soap and work gloves presented in a state of transformation into unconvincing gorilla paws. There are also cryptic written annotations, some typographically formal and others scrawled on notepaper in a way that suggests a secret instruction to whoever might be tasked with finishing the tableaux.
Of course, in grand Duchampian fashion, it was the viewer who was called upon to complete the story implied by this reliquary display of semi-related clues. Complicating matters was the fact that another six objects were placed around the gallery as if to suggest that the whole exhibition should be read as a diorama--a much larger one containing both the disquieting objects and the viewer. All seemed to await, and resist, translation into a codified narrative. Like those inside the cases, the other objects were presented as if they were unfinished. A toy-sized wood carving of a giraffe, for example, titled Whittled Away (2006), was surrounded by shavings, as if left over from its incomplete manufacture.
The digital prints, titled Dominion: Africa Maps (2006), contributed to an interpretation of the exhibition. Presented in a tattered condition, the classroom-style maps seemed the remnants of a vanished geography of colonialism, conjuring the troubled sleep of a guilty history. They recast the other objects as the components of a failed attempt to rationalize the fantasy of what was once called the "Dark Continent." What we are left with are residual fragments of the border zone between fact and willful misrecognition, a frozen moment in the slow dissolution of a childhood memory of something that never was.
- Mark Van Proyen, 2007
"Art Review: Current events reflected in works at Emily Davis Gallery", Anderson Turner, Akron Beacon Journal, October 5, 2017
"University of Akron Myers School of Art presents Heatsink and Altered States exhibitions", Brittany Nader, Cleveland.com, September 29, 2017
"The People's Museum of Revisionist Natural Itstory", Rebecca Groynom, ArtHopper.org, June 29, 2016
"SPACES Parodies Natural History Museums in Edgy Spoof Built for Laughs", Steven Litt, Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 8, 2015
" It's All Been Done Before", Rose Bouthillier, ArtHopper.org, February 3, 2015
"It's All Been Done Before at Forum Artspace", Christopher Lynn, Temporary Art Review, February 18, 2015