Lauren Alyssa Howard
University of Georgia
With a conscious tenderness, my work attempts to observe and perhaps scrutinize the stereotypes consistent with the Southern Male and Female by reconstructing broken, yet clear memories of growing up in a small Alabama town. The work also deconstructs memories of the rural lower class as a vehicle for stimulation through texture, color and investigation. Dirt and an overall brown hue overwhelm as small glimmers of color and texture flicker in and out serving as quick instances of clear memory. Stuffing grotesque animal parts inside decorated bureaus or shelves generates discomforting juxtapositions that I explore and enhance with drawings and paintings in pastel, oil, and shellac on faux-wood panels. Carpet and upholstery create territories where literal and symbolic realms overlap; here the viewer must question whether the installation is a real environment, imagined, or both. Cicadas, crickets, and squirrel heads literally reference Southern Alabama, while sheep hearts in jars, deer antlers, and roaches symbolize male and female roles in a Southern Baptist household. In both two-dimensional and three-dimensional works, I create an alternate world where masculine and feminine become ambiguous as humans interact with and even become animals. Displacing upholstery, carpet, and furniture from lower class homes in the 1970's and 1980's into a traditional ‘gallery’ context interrupts expectations of seamless display and disrupts notions of reality and memory while giving the viewer the chance to experience a strange world that may or may not have existed.
Lauren Alyssa Howard was born and raised in a small town in Southeastern Alabama. After moving to the Metro-Atlanta area in 1996, she attended the University of Georgia where she received her Bachelors of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Drawing. Drawing from her rural upbringing, Howard uses references from a particular lower-middle working class history to address identity, gender, and place. Her work has been exhibited nationally and has most recently been shown in the Tampa Museum of Art, Aljira Fine Art Center, and The Contemporary Art Museum of Tampa. She now resides in Brooklyn, NY after having received her Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of South Florida.