August 8, 2013

Spotlight: Lauren Cook

"I'm very attracted to sincerity and vulnerability. I like people who mean what they say 
and I like art that isn't trying to make anyone feel stupid."

We previously wrote about the Peachy Keen Collective, but this week's Girl Spotlight focuses on its curator, Lauren Cook. One of the first things I noticed when I saw Lauren's tumblr page was that she has created a large amount of material. However, she has avoided the problem of making "safe" or "predictable" art by using many different mediums and subjects. Her curiosity and exploration of the self, as reflected in her art, proves that she is a well-rounded and talented artist, and I believe she is incredibly important. I get the feeling that Lauren Cook is always creating, always thinking, always observing. I'm drawn to Lauren's artwork because of its completely literal presence in reality. Although Lauren explores images in different contexts, sincerity and vulnerability are in the front of her mind. Lauren's words gave some order to many of the thoughts floating around my head and I cannot thank her enough.

THE LE SIGH: What is your background? Has art school changed what you create?

Lauren Cook: I'm from the Catskills in New York. It's mostly a lot of abandoned buildings and failed businesses and can be sad a lot. But I lived on a farm on the outskirts of town and went to a school in a very urban area with a lot of drug issues. The mayor of my town got arrested for selling fake Nikes. Art school is kind of just as weird. I tend to feel isolated a lot of the time by it, but I'm learning so that's all that matters.

TLS: You use a variety of mediums in your art. Do you have a favorite? Is there a medium that you would like to explore more?

LC: I will always love to draw with a really nice pen. There is something very sexy to me about a crisp, graphic line. I don't really know much about printmaking.

TLS: Which art websites/publications do you frequent?

LC: Contemporary Art Daily, The Jogging, Wandering Bears, etc, etc. "The usual."

TLS: Who are you listening to these days?

LC: The Jesus and Mary Chain album "Darklands," "Yeezus" is pretty good, Beach House, Fiona Apple...

TLS: Who are some visual artists that inspire you?

LC: Matisse, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Janine Antoni, Ken Price. I like playful aesthetics with dark undertones, like you can feel something looming underneath. I like it when art feels like a competition between who can be more clever too.

TLS: How would you describe this cleverness? Do you think this occurs through the juxtaposition or isolation of objects or images?

LC: I feel like the cleverness competition is sort of like how real life conversation works. Who can get the biggest laugh? Or who can be shared the most? Or whatever. To me, my art practice is very much so about juxtaposing things together, or isolating them from their nature, and I feel like that is a lot of what art is in general. Making an observation you have experienced into a visual language everyone can experience.

TLS: How would you describe internet aesthetics/your aesthetic?

LC: Internet aesthetics are very much so a response to whatever has changed about our lives because of our interactions with computers. It is something we see everyday for the most part, and to me it's weird when people try to ignore it. I'm not sure my aesthetic has a lot to do visually with internet aesthetics anymore, but I spend a lot of time on computers and have for many years of my life and it has a lot to do with who I am and my identity. My aesthetic has a lot to do with vulnerability and I think the internet does too.

TLS: What led you to create the Peachy Keen Collective?

LC: Peachy Keen was created because there is and was a lot of work I was seeing girls I know make on the internet that was falling under the radar, and a response to a niche I didn't really see being filled. Image macros, digital work, moody Tumblr posts, whatever...they all hold some sort of merit to me and need a platform.

TLS: How do you feel about this statement from Tender Journal: We accept the belief that all-female platforms can be considered reductive, arguably acting to increase the gulf between male and female writers/artists through segregation. Certain feminists will refuse inclusion in all-female anthologies on this basis, not wanting to be defined by their gender, allowing for a different kind of empowerment. But because the concept of an all-female journal is still controversial, provoking knee-jerk reactions to exclusivity and accusations of (inverted) sexism, the term 'women's work' is still perceived as derogatory and archaic, a female space is necessary."

LC: Tender Journal is really great. I think about this a lot. Do I want to be thought of as a female artist, or as an artist? I feel like people are very quick to dismiss female based art projects, especially when they are linked heavily to the internet, which makes me very upset. Photography especially is such a boys game at this point. We have to make these spaces for ourselves because no one else will.

TLS: What do you find fascinating about popular culture on the internet?

LC: Pop culture on the internet is especially singular as opposed to reading a gossip magazine or watching a TV show. Pop culture on the internet, I think, relies heavily on the image and the understanding that an image can and will be removed of its context and still will hold some sort of understanding, no matter what that is. Recycling, re-captioning, etc. A never-ending cycle of sharing, and the fact that someone can drag something to their desktop, print it out, and then own it as an object.

TLS: How do you deal with loneliness? 

LC: I'm not the person to ask about loneliness.

TLS: Can you give me a short list of things that you like?

LC: I like: construction paper, scrunchies, raspberry ginger ale, and taking selfies.

See more of Lauren Cook's artwork on her tumblr.

Written by Quinn Moreland