Interview / Lauren Matsumoto

Black and White Cookie, Gouache and collage on paper, 22 x 30 in, 2011

Black and White Cookie, Gouache and collage on paper, 22 x 30 in, 2011

Although born in New York of Scandinavian heritage, Lauren Matsumoto has lived in France, Italy, Mexico, Florida, New York and frequently travels abroad. She has participated in international group exhibitions on three continents, including shows at the ArtComplex Gallery in Tokyo and Artists Space in New York. Her work has appeared in notable publications such as Studio Visit magazine and Graphics. She earned an MFA from the School of Visual Arts and a BA from Yale. She currently lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

Nature and how we relate to it is the central theme of my work. Fantasy, cultural appropriation, sexuality and transformation are also a part of my subject. Using a hybrid form of painting, drawing and collage, my work depicts women and objects from the industrial era interacting with nature.

– Lauren Matsumoto’s statement from her website here

Here’s an exclusive interview with Lauren ;D

Lauren Matsumoto

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you and what do you do? What got you interested in art?

My artwork is a fusion of drawing, painting and collage. I’m interested in pushing the boundaries of these three mediums, which are normally kept separate as if they somehow violate or dilute each other. I’m not sure why this has been the prevailing view, considering Rauschenberg and others have been experimenting with combining all three mediums since the early 1960s. It’s nothing new.

To answer your second question, I was interested in art at quite a young age. I’ve been painting with professional intent since I was 14 years old. As a teenager, walking the corridors of the Metropolitan Museum in New York inspired my pursuit of art as a career.

Summer Reverie, Acrylic and paper on panel, 16 x 20 in, 2012

Summer Reverie, Acrylic and paper on panel, 16 x 20 in, 2012

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
Nature is my biggest inspiration. In particular, the busy-ness of birds as a metaphor for human activity, the fine lines on leaves, and light falling on botanicals really interest me.

Which of your artwork pieces is your favorite?
Desert Bride, 2012, is my current favorite.

Could you tell us more details about Desert Bride?
This piece is about a woman who is not a bride in a traditional sense, but is married through her relationship with the incredible beauty of the desert landscape around her. Florals, insects and birds are lead characters in her story. Maybe she is telling them something we do not know. She appears to have driven to a remote location by herself, where technology and civilization are still present in the distance, but do not intrude or dominate her story.

Desert Bride, Acrylic and paper on canvas, 36 x 48 in, 2012

Desert Bride, Acrylic and paper on canvas, 36 x 48 in, 2012

How do you look at your previous pieces?

My entire body of work is an ongoing experiment. Previous works are all stepping stones that take me to a new place.

How does your cultural background affect/inspire your work?
My background is a fairly common combination of Scandinavian-Northern European and American cultures. What is unique to me and my work, however, is that with Scandinavian baggage, I married into a Japanese-Mexican family. Both those countries have profoundly influenced my artwork in different ways. I adore the story-telling found in the work of Mexican artists such as Kahlo and Rivera. I appreciate the crisp design qualities present in the entire history of Japanese art from its beginnings through today.

 Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Nickolas Muray Collection, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin
/Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
/Sakai Hoitsu, Birds and Flowers of the Twelve Months

Space Junk, Acrylic and paper on canvas, 36 x 48 in, 2012

Space Junk, Acrylic and paper on canvas, 36 x 48 in, 2012

What do you think is the role of an artist in society?

The artist helps society by offering an alternative point of view. Art is a way of seeing: it is a respite from the frenetic, uncontrollable pace of our culture today.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given at that time? What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
I don’t ever feel like giving up, so I’m not sure how to advise aspiring artists on finding inspiration. But good advice is always welcome. A professor once told one of my classes to always pay close attention to your edges – between shapes as well as the edges of the piece itself. That advice has served me well many times.

What’s the best thing about being a woman artist?
The best part about being a female artist is the freedom to explore any subject without being labeled “too effeminate.”

 Pet, Gouache and collage on paper, 20 x 15 in, 2011

Pet, Gouache and collage on paper, 20 x 15 in, 2011

What is the most difficult part of being a female artist?
The worst part about being a female artist is juggling a lot of responsibilities outside work.

How do you manage in such a situation?
Determination and good organizational skills are essential.

Bird Radio, Mixed Media, 36 x 48 in, 2011

Bird Radio, Mixed Media, 36 x 48 in, 2011

What is up and coming for you, as projects?
I’m currently working on a series of works on panel. Wood panel is a new type of support that works really well with the collage and hand-drawn elements I often incorporate into my paintings.

What do you want to do next?
The new body of work I’m developing is carefully orchestrated for a solo show. I’m hoping that is in the cards in the near future.

What is your dream project?
My dream project would be to spend an entire month living in a bird sanctuary, painting and studying birds.

You can also check her profile on our WAW website ;)

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