Laurén Brady is a visual artist living in Charlotte, Michigan. She holds an MFA in Studio Art from Michigan State University and a BS in Studio Art from Indiana Wesleyan University. Her paintings explore landscape, memory, and responding to current environments through expressive mark-making and bold use of color. Captured with a sense of immediacy and compulsion, her work serves as an entry to an on-going investigation of the ways we interact with and hold onto places we pass through.
Laurén’s work has been included in several solo, small group, and national juried exhibitions, and she has been awarded artist residencies with Golden Apple Studios, The Sable Project, and La Macina di San Cresci. She is currently preparing for an upcoming solo exhibition at The Schmidt Art Center at Southwestern Illinois College in January 2023. She has been interviewed by Visionary Art Collective and was featured in CandyFloss Magazine as well as numerous online art blogs. Beyond creating, Laurén has organized and co-curated exhibitions including Cynosure at Scene Metrospace and Save What We Kept, a forthcoming exhibition at Lowell Art Center and has written for The Arts To Hearts Project. Laurén teaches Foundations of Art courses in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design at Michigan State University.
When did your interest in art begin vs. when you began thinking of it as a career/life choice?
I became interested in the arts at a young age, starting with piano lessons at age four. I am fortunate to have grown up in a family that fostered the creative spirit; they've always been, and still are, my biggest cheerleaders. When I was in elementary school, my grandfather won a free oil painting class in a raffle; instead of taking the class himself, he gave it to me as a gift. This was my first experience working with oil paint--I remember being so proud of the mountain scene I painted. I was hooked! As I got older, my interest in music, writing, and visual art grew. I learned to play the cello and joined a youth orchestra, and took as many 2-D art classes as I could in middle school and high school. In college, I knew I wanted to be a studio art major with the goal of one day having a thriving art practice and to teach at the University-level eventually. I'm thrilled to say that is exactly what I am doing now.
What draws you to your particular subject matter?
I am fascinated by the idea of place attachment — the emotional and cognitive bond that individuals develop towards place — and how our mind is constantly creating a mental map of experiences with locations. How even the most minute interaction or mundane occurrence can become indelible. I think about this in relation to my current landscapes, and my paintings become tangible collections of moments of stillness among movement and change. Smaller works are often made in direct observation of my backyard and daily walks. They are reflections on tentative, latent interactions with nature that cause me to pause in reverence. In larger pieces, I explore the idea of space by merging present experience with past landscapes traversed; for me, painting is the wholistic view of what is seen, what is felt, what is altered in retrospect. My practice is rooted in a deep respect for the environment and a bittersweet relationship with the passage of time— to delve into the urgency to capture, understand, and hold on in the present.
What interest of yours (outside of art) ends up influencing your practice the most?
Whenever I can, I go hiking or camping. I live in Michigan and am fortunate to be in driving distance to beautiful forests and large bodies of water. I regularly take reference photos when exploring State Parks or walking along the shorelines, and fragments from these experiences tend to show up in my work. Another interest of mine is gardening. In the warmer months, my morning routine includes walking out to my garden, watering, weeding, puttering, researching. Through gardening, I feel a deeper connectedness to the landscape and sense of place--I observe plants I cared for emerge, thrive, and fade as the season shifts. These observations often become catalysts for paintings. Finally, reading is inevitably influential in my studio practice. I am an avid reader in general, but the practice of reading poetry is integrated into my studio day. Each session, I try to begin by reading at least one poem to get into the right headspace. The reduced, poignant language of poetry relates to the process of abstraction; it is my hope that my paintings similarly capture the specific, emotional atmospheres that poems do so well.
What is one piece of advice you wish you could give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that life, and a career in the arts, takes twists and turns. I would say to be bold in seeking opportunities, to be patient finding where my work belongs, and to know that being an artist is an on-going process that requires showing up daily. Be patient. I would also tell my younger self that it is important to have balance--to take time to enjoy life, take walks, exercise, spend time with people who love and support you.
What would you say is your biggest goal for this year?
Honestly, I’m just excited to continue the recent trajectory of my work and keep the momentum and positive energy in my studio going. I am trusting my creative voice and vision more now than ever before, and that's a great feeling!