Enriching lives through art and craft

Devices for Filling a Void: Lauren Kalman

January 2 – March 3, 2023 | Geoffrey A. Wolpert Gallery

Lauren Kalman is a visual artist based in Detroit, whose practice is rooted in contemporary craft, sculpture, video, photography and performance. Through performances using her body, her work investigates constructions of the ideal and the feminine and their impacts on self-image and identity, the politics of craft, and the built environment.

Lauren Kalman. (L) Device for Filling a Void (12), 2017. Inkjet print; (R) Device for Filling a Void (12), 2017. Gold-plated electroformed copper, sterling silver, pearl

“I use assertive and powerful performances of the female body in relationship to wearable objects, functional objects, and environments. I make objects and then use those objects in performance videos and photographs. My body is the site for these performative interactions. I use a variety of methods in my work including traditionally fabricated metal objects, textiles, beading, and ceramics folded together with installation, 3D printing, computer-controlled objects, performance, photography, and video. 

Lauren Kalman. Device for Filling a Void (2), 2014. Gold-plated electroformed copper, sterling silver

Over the years, my work has transitioned from jewelry as the format of my work, to adornment and decoration as a subject of my work. I work with craft materials as a strategic choice, because of their strong tie to the body through their proximity to bodies through jewelry, cutlery, vessels, hygiene implements, and clothing. 

Devices for Filling a Void, combines a jewelry vocabulary with forms reminiscent of reconstructive surgical devices and body-like growths. Rather than presenting or holding the body in an ideal position, they distort the body through actions that are sometimes grotesque or violent. The objects literally fill the voids of the body, but the forms also imply a psychological filling of emotional or erotic voids. The work points to ideas about women being incomplete or lacking, requiring augmentation by men, objects, dress, makeup and adornment.” 

Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Kalman completed her MFA in Art and Technology from the Ohio State University and earned a BFA with a focus in Metals from Massachusetts College of Art.

Lauren Kalman. (L) Device for Filling a Void (1), 2014. Inkjet print; (R) Device for Filling a Void (1), 2014. Gold-plated electroformed copper, sterling silver

Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Museum of Arts and Design, Museum of Contemporary Craft, Cranbrook Art Museum, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Mint Museum, World Art Museum in Beijing, and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris among others. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Françoise van den Bosch Foundation at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Detroit Institute of Art, Museum of Arts and Design, and the Korean Ceramics Foundation.

She has been awarded residencies at the Corning Museum of Glass, Bemis Center, Australian National University, Corporation of Yaddo, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Brush Creek Arts Foundation, and Haystack. She has received Chenven Foundation, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Puffin Foundation West, and ISE Cultural Foundation grants. In 2020 she received the Françoise van den Bosch Award for her career’s impact on the jewelry field and in 2022 she received the Raphael Founders Prize in Glass from the Center for Craft.

Lauren Kalman. (L) Device for Filling a Void (23), 2019. Gold-plated electroformed copper, brass; (R) Device for Filling a Void (23), 2019. Inkjet print

She a dedicated educator and believes strongly in empowerment through education. She has taught at institutions ranging from community colleges and private art schools to the Ivy League, including Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Currently she is an Associate Professor at Wayne State University in Detroit.









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