Shoebox Conversations: Lauren Mendelsohn-Bass

Shoebox Conversations: Lauren Mendelsohn-Bass

Welcome to our new program, Shoebox Conversations. Our team, Kristine Schomaker, Sheli Silverio and S. Vollie Osborn, is meeting up with artists via Zoom to discuss their art practice, new work, upcoming exhibitions, and more.

Lauren Mendelsohn-Bass is a Los Angeles born painter who received her Bachelor of Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her work takes the viewer on a journey through the word of superficial reality where artificially alluring and nostalgically innocent context marks darker thought, ideas and actions. Playing on the visual tropes of mass marketing and vintage advertisements, her work explores the ways reality is obscured when presented as ostensibly attractive. As popular culture navigates an era of “fake news”, social media, and alternative facts, nothing is as it seems. Her paintings examine today’s culture where truth is fluid; ideas issues and events are routinely reframed to reinforce brand, and even daily life is depicted in a series of perfectly posed, edited and filtered images on social media.

Guilty pleasures are portrayed in a vibrant world of bold imagery. Her work delves into society’s complex emotions around what we desire, and more specifically, the mass marketed idea of desirability in lifestyle, perception, physical characteristics, conspicuous consumption and more. Luscious color and alluring imagery is expertly depicted with great detail in order to seduce the senses. The artist wields realism as a means to expose the lack of reality in socially constructed norms.

Inspired by 1950’s era advertising, Mendelsohn-Bass evokes a classic Film Noir feel and its emotive German Expressionist roots. Mixing pop imagery and classic noir iconography, she draws the viewer into an enticing sugar coated world, only to find all is not as sweet as it appears. The work appeals to a nostalgic longing for an idealized mechanism to identify villain and hero. In the classic films it was so easy, but careful branding and cultivation of image has made it harder to see the core characteristics of public figures, products and events. Through juxtapositions of symbolic and stylized iconic imagery with high emotional content, her paintings maintain a sense of dramatic tension. The mystery and drama of noir is retained while swapping the dark urban landscape of Hollywood classic films for bright candy colors and a façade of beautiful perfection.

Author

Kristine Schomaker is a new media and performance artist, painter and art historian living and working at the Brewery artist complex in Los Angeles. For over 14 years she has been working with various interdisciplinary art forms including online virtual worlds to explore identity and the hybridization of digital media with the physical world. Whether virtual or physical, the object-based work Kristine creates combines elements of color-based gestural abstraction, animation, pattern and design, neo-Baroque and Populence. Using installation, text, photography, mixed media, video and performance for her ongoing conceptual project My Life as an Avatar, she visualizes a narrative/dialogue with her virtual persona, Gracie Kendal. Kristine then documents her experiences on her blog. In 2012, exploring ideas of community, Kristine turned a local gallery into a modern day creation of Gertrude Stein’s salon of the 1920’s with a live mixed-reality dinner party merging the physical world with the online virtual world. Over the summer she also performed The Bald and the Beautiful in which she had her head shaved as a statement to challenge society’s standards of beauty. Currently, Kristine is working as an Artist-in-Residence through the Linden Endowment for the Arts creating an immersive virtual environment which she is planning to bring into the physical world via sculpture/public art work.

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