LAUREN JANUHOWSKI

CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

LJ: I would categorize my artwork as primarily fiber based work with feminist themes. Working from collages, I strive to create pieces that illustrate a cumulation of women’s experiences in our society that we as women recognize between each other, but that everyday language fails to communicate. I’ve been utilizing fabric as the medium for my work for the past couple of years, fully aware that textile processes are often thought as “women’s work” and not taken as seriously as some other art forms. I love how textile work has a long history in the hands of women, has a role in anecdotal traditions, and has an inevitable relationship to the body.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

LJ: Inspiration comes from story-telling and personal experiences, from women around me — a mixture of those close to me and those who I do not know — and overheard conversations in public spaces between women. Visually, I get color and pattern inspiration from city spaces and set designs in films. For example, the repetition of bricks and tiles or stacks of products in a vitrine could inspire a quilt pattern.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

LJ: Each piece begins from a collage. Since I have never been particularly decent at drawing, I construct my images from magazine clippings or manipulated pictures I find on the internet. The process can begin by having a specific vision for the finished product but sometimes I flip through magazines and collect images that strike me in order to stir my imagination. After the initial collage, I begin by printing on the fabric in my chosen color pallet, using a printing process called “monotype printing”.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

LJ: That heavy topics and situations can be discussed and contemplated through sarcastic humor and ironic tones. There are a lot of physical and metaphorical layers to my work — sometimes I wonder if this is fully captured and understood by viewers or if this intense level of understanding is even important. Everything I make is personal.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

LJ: I recently received my masters in September 2020 from L’École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Currently, I am in a “residency” year at the same school where I have access to studios while I am completing an internship at a couture fashion embroidery studio. This has been allowing me to continue my practice while figuring out my next steps — looking for residencies, informing myself on galleries in Paris, applying to open calls etc.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

LJ: I go back and forth on this one. Sometimes I have very specific directions that I envision for my banners, including exact color schemes, form placement, and size. However, some of the best banners I have made have come from impulse collages thrown together in 5 minutes without thinking about any direction in particular.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

LJ: Having well known schools on your CV means nothing if you can’t talk with confidence about your work to someone you don’t know. Literally every opportunity comes from connections.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

LJ: Not necessarily. I find the work before and after style changes to be the most interesting. What the work invokes is more important to me, “taste” is always relative and debatable.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

LJ: Finding continuous motivation to create, especially when one has not reached a point in their career where their art practice provides their sole source of income. Balancing life and practice is hard, there are times when motivation comes effortlessly, other times it is a laborious process.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

LJ: The ability to create things and to express myself visually is something I really appreciate. I am constantly in awe of how art is translated through the body.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

LJ: I am really inspired by the ways in which Billie Zangewa manipulates and layers fabric in order to create such narrative portraits. Diedrick Brackens and Erin Riley are some of my favorite weavers currently. They are both super active on Instagram with showing their process which is always fascinating. I also really enjoy the work of Hangama Amiri and Sarah Zapata, both young artists working with textile.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

LJ: Technology is a double-edge sword. In terms of social media, it can be used as a great promotional tool, a way to connect one’s work to the entire world while giving as much or as little of a behind the scenes as desired. At the same time, these tools can be insane wastes of time and a space where we compare ourselves to others. However, widespread diffusion of work allows for artists to discover other artists in a potentially more diversified way.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

LJ: I believe there is potential that we, as artists, see the world differently — for example I have relationships to color, patterns, and compositions of materials that others might not necessarily connect to or see in the same way as I do.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

LJ: I do enjoy traveling, the actual act of being enclosed in a plane not so much. When the global pandemic situation settles down, I am looking forward to coming back to the states for a bit to see family. As for favorite cities, New York City and Paris have undeniable presences that seem to surround you — New York for its energy, Paris for its history.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

LJ: “Native Tongue” is the first book of a science fiction feminist trilogy written by Suzette Haden Elgin in 1984. The book portrays a dystopian American society where women have been stripped of their rights. A group of linguist women create Láadan, a language specifically designed to express the experiences of women that other languages are incapable of describing.

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

LJ: I think my goal is one that most emerging artists have: to find a gallery that will work hard to represent their work while guarding the art’s essence with respect. However, I feel that galleries and art spaces need to make a much larger effort in searching and diversifying their collections of artists as well as their staff with people of color and women. Being a part of a gallery whose representation has a majority of white men is not an institution that I trust to represent my work nor do I wish to be a part of.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

LJ: The possibility of creating an infinite number of ways to visually represent an experience or feeling where language lacks.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?

LJ: “People I’ve Been Sad” by Christine and the Queens. A sort of anthem for this year filled with quarantines, loss, uncertainty, and forced distance from loved ones.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

LJ: The emphasis of my work is to create pieces that are embedded with the female experience and to force viewers to make a decision as to whether or not they fully wish to engage with the heavy subject matter. To me, textile is inevitably a process connected to the body of the woman and to our language. When I work on a piece, I think of the women in my life that share stories while they push needles through fabric, knit another row, or piece together a quilt square.

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