photo by Matthew Leifheit for CCNY
1992 Washington, DC
Lauren Poor is making her entire life into a garbagey Gesamtkunstwerk by exhaustively applying her vision to her surroundings. She lives a mystical neon dream where life and art intermix fluidly. Through obsessive appreciation of imperfection and oddity Poor is able to grow her vision organically and allow it to spread like moss over any given subject. Increasingly she works in a way that prevents the viewer from being able to tell where the photograph begins or ends. A studied confusion of foreground and background allows her art to bleed past its borders and into its surroundings. There is a fantastical quality to these works, like windows on a world where you would rather be.
Trash Palace 2013
Poor’s recent series “Trash Palace” takes this mixing of real (photographic) information with fantasy (painted) content to the next level. The series is comprised of photos of the artist’s apartment accompanied by small houselike constructions and still lives. The physical subject of each photograph has been heavily altered by the artist’s hand if not completely fabricated by her hand. Then the photograph is printed, and the print is worked back into by the same hand. Through these repeated interventions of self Poor’s hand combines with the photograph, and they seamlessly become unintelligible.
“I wanted to use my apartment as a test space for experimenting with ideas of visual culture,” said Poor in a recent conversation with MATTE. “I paid attention to why everything in my apartment looks the way it does and how it all might affect my lifestyle and mentality. Everything started off white and boxy as apartments usually do and after studying ways different cultures create their visual worlds and how their choices relate to and affect their beliefs and lifestyles I decided to try to create my own and see what would happen. I began to create my own wallpaper and images that I thought would better reflect my own values and world I want to live in. Some of the images show my value for objects like plastic bottles that American society deems disposable and worthless compared to the values it shows through it’s own images and advertisements. I wanted to make a non oppressive space that people would feel free in and open to possibilities of existing and creating, so I left out ideal human forms and opted for abstract doodles and a wide range of colors. When I felt I’d changed the space enough that it fulfilled some of what I hoped to represent I photographed it and emphasized some of it’s qualities by painting on the prints, then experienced living in it.”
The cohesiveness of Poor’s aesthetic is the only constant in her work, and it is malleable enough to allow for wild experimentation. “I think I have a way of doing things as anyone does. The way I imagine and create is affected by things I’ve seen and experienced and held dear or significant in my life so far. This includes a lot of ideas and visions related to dressing up and playing make believe as a kid, building fairy houses, hopping through suburban backyards, being in an acting group when I was younger and performing Shakespeare plays, being in an organization called City At Peace and many other things.”
Times Square 2013
Poor’s most recent endeavor is applying her magical world to all our lives. Choosing Times Square as her subject, she takes the hyperreal crossroads of the universe one step further. “I’m able to photograph using a machine what I’m seeing and then paint using my body what is in my mind, invisible to everyone else,” Poor writes. The logical progression of this thought takes her vision into the physical world, and that’s exactly what she’s doing. Drawing inspiration from large public initiatives such as Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg project in Detroit and Isaiah Zagar’s Philadelphia mosaic works, Poor is building a city. With help from her father and a few friends she is in the very early stages of building a “visionary environment” in her parents’ back yard in Maryland. Over spring break from School of Visual Arts this year Poor began work on this small house, and this is a direction she has been dreaming of for a long time.
The Chicken Coop 2013
“I’m excited to continue building. During this time I was happy to work to create something large and functional and I kept dreaming of building cities and empires and communities and neighborhoods someday. I hope my future will look more like this- building and fueling communities, creating spaces for good.”
Lauren Poor’s generous and unique sprit shines through everything she touches, and for this reason she will surely succeed in making the world a more beautiful place.
-MATTE Magazine for CCNY