Lauren Brevner is an amazing artist who has traveled the world and learned a lot and brings all that and a bag of chips to the table. Her work draws from many sources to make and discuss incredibly important subjects from femininity and it’s place and meaning in current culture to tradition and art and the importance of the past. Check out her interview:
Please introduce yourself, tell us how you define ‘Art’ and what art means in your life.
My name is Lauren Brevner and I’m a mixed media artist from Vancouver B.C. Art, to me, is a form of expression; a reflection of culture and a never ending cycle of perspectives.
How did your experience in New York and Osaka differ? What did you learn about art, yourself, what you wanted your work to say, and how you wanted to say it? Change is important, not only where we go, but what we leave behind, the old skins and ideas that we shed for sake advancement, whether intellectual, emotion, or otherwise. What did you leave behind after those experiences?
My time in Osaka took place before I was an artist. I began to teach myself how to paint once I moved back to Vancouver at the end of 2011. Moving to Japan on my own with no family and being so young really forced me to be introspective. I came to truly understand who I am and who I needed to be. It was extremely tough at times- living paycheck to paycheck in a shoebox of an apartment. I grew up a lot and quickly. I finally came to the decision of being an artist when I returned home. Osaka gave me direction, focus, and inspiration to last me a lifetime and I’m forever grateful for that experience. New York was much more about growth and experimentation and developing a voice as an artist. It’s such a vibrant city, quite like Japan, but so totally different at the same time. Also, being from Vancouver ( a city with an underdeveloped art scene/ culture ), it was so wonderful getting to meet so many passionate and creative people. Once again, it just solidified my direction and purpose. In Japan, I left behind my personal stigmas and insecurities; in NYC, I gained my artistic confidence and voice.
Do you think every artist should pursue residence or mentor ship? How would you suggest starting artists go about finding the right program or mentor?
I think each artist has their own path and what would work best for them. I often get emails about whether or not artists should go to art school, especially since they think I’m advocating that everyone be self taught. The thing is, I was in a situation where i didn’t have access to higher education, so I had no choice. I’m sure that had I been able to i would have gone and benefited greatly. On the flip side, I do believe that since i didn’t come from an institution of sorts, my stylistic voice is strong. I didn’t have anyone telling me what to do or not, which can be stunting for new artists. I think everyone should do what works best for them, within the realms of what they can realistically achieve.
As for finding a program or mentorship, it’s really about networking. There are sites and companies that set those things up for you, but I think the true monitorships come from relationships. Both of my experiences were from meeting with and working with people that i connected with.
We’re experiencing a lot of social upheaval currently, gay marriage is finally legal in the USA, there’s a great deal of dialogue about racism, LGBT rights, feminism, and the idea of ‘acceptance’. Your art is about female empowerment, how does the current culture affect you? Where do you take your inspiration from? Do you think your work is contributing to the discussion? Are you personally?
Growing up as a mixed kid, I was never able to fully identify with a specific culture, and that really left a mark on me. I remember when I was young, I would do small acting roles and auditioning for parts as the “ethnic child” always confused me. I’ve grown up feeling misrepresented in mass media and ultimately trying to fill that personal and cultural void with my artwork. I hope others can find that ‘acceptance’ and identify with my work as well.
Ultimately, art is meant to evoke a response with the viewer and I feel as though my interpretations could taint that. Everyone connects with it in a different way and I think that’s such a beautiful and organic thing. I’m inspired by so much all the time- Japanese culture, textiles, patterns, floral design, architecture, books, movies, emotions. It’s a culmination of things as I’m sure most artists would agree.
Tell us about the use of gold and silver leaf in art, where does the tradition come from? How long has it been a technique? What draws you to it and what about it speaks to you?
Gold leaf has been used throughout history in everything from jewelry to architecture to art. Gold (specifically, though any precious metal) is seen as a commodity and is symbolic of wealth and power. I believe it was used in pieces to enforce that fact, especially in religious paintings and temples. I am enamored by the technique and the history of the material itself. It draws people in and has such a strong presence on its own. I really love finding and experimenting with new materials, so although I work with it heavily right now (as with resin and Japanese papers), that could easily change on a whim.
How would you describe the current depiction of women in art? How have you seen it change since you became an artist? How do you see it changing in the next five years?
Realistically speaking, women throughout history have been depicted heavily from a male’s perspective. It’s only in the past century that women have had any voice in the art world or otherwise. There is currently a large pop movement of women who paint surrealist female portraits that I would consider myself a part of. I think this boom of women painting women is fantastic, no matter what they are trying to say. I am still relatively new to the scene, so I haven’t really noticed a change per-se, only growth. I can only hope the scene grows even more over the next five years and beyond. We should all be able to call ourselves artists as opposed to being labelled as “female” and “male” artists.
What’s your favorite beverage?
Coffee- Black as night ~