Lauren Kalman

Artist Statement

I am invested in using assertive and powerful performances of the female body in relationship to the built environment, wearable objects, and systemic power structures. I explore this territory through the lens of craft media.

My formative training is in the field of jewelry and contemporary crafts. Over the years my work has transitioned from jewelry as the format of my work to adornment as the subject of my work. I approach adornment through a variety of methods ranging from traditionally fabricated metal objects to textiles, beading, ceramics, installation, 3D printing, computer controlled objects, performance, photography, and video.

In recent history, craft has been recognized as a medium that endures outside of the white, male dominated, contemporary art world. Crafts have been socially constructed to be associated with the domestic, collective, and female. As my work deals largely with the female body, it calls upon historical associations with craft and the feminine. I choose to work within the craft traditions building on their association with the body, the senses, the feminine, the erotic, decadence, ritual, wealth, and power in ways that challenge the status quo.

My recent work has utilized a sterile aesthetic borrowed from Modernism combined with adornment and the female body. Fabricated objects that reflect sculptural ornamentation and adornment are combined with the body and design objects to produce photographs. These juxtapositions point to historical, political, and social contexts relating to sex, gender, power, pleasure, and beauty. I build objects and environments that interact with the body, and for the majority of my work I use my own body as the site for these interactions. These interactions are documented in photographs and video, and are presented as installations combining images, objects, sculptures, and video.

Devices for Filling a Void combine jewelry forms with forms of reconstructive surgical devices, used to hold the flesh in pace as it heals. In this case, rather than coaxing the face into an ideal position, they distort the face through expanding the nostrils and holding the mouth open. The objects literally fill the voids of the facial orifices, but the title also implies a psychological filling of emotional or erotic voids. The title points to ideas about women being incomplete or lacking, requiring augmentation by men, objects, dress, makeup and adornment.

-- Lauren Kalman



Lauren Kalman is a visual artist based in Detroit, whose practice is invested in the history of adornment, contemporary craft, video, photography and performance. Through her work she investigates beauty, adornment, body image, and the built environment through performances using female body.

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 Massachusetts College of Art.

Kalman exhibits and lectures internationally. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Museum of Arts and Design, Museum of Contemporary Craft, Cranbrook Art Museum, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Mint Museum, the World Art Museum in Beijing, and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris among others. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Detroit Institute of Art, and the Museum of Arts and Design.

She has been awarded residencies at the Bemis Center, the Australian National University, the Corporation of Yaddo, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Brush Creek Arts Foundation, Haystack, and Santa Fe Art Institute. She has received Chenven Foundation, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Puffin Foundation West, and ISE Cultural Foundation grants.

She has taught at institutions including Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Currently she is an Associate Professor at Wayne State University.