Artist StatementSilk moths and townships; rabbits and row houses; beetles and architecture. My work explores ways of storytelling within the confines of body and border. The depiction of literal borders between humans and nature, between civilization and living wild, between our current environment and an imagined new Eden is a story of cause and effect. Each creature portrays adaptation, future coexistence and the connection between all forms of life. Meticulously cutting, layering and gluing hundreds of tiny pieces of paper from recycled magazines and books is an act of extreme control, yet while my hands are cutting, my mind is intuitively listening to the voices of the inhabitants of a surreal, dream-like, futuristic world. Certain patterns, images or words on the scraps of paper capture the identity and personality of each creature. The result is a portrait rich in meaning and texture. Inspired by the fruit and vegetable portraits by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the paper “mosaiks” of Mary Delany and the detailed illustrations of John James Audubon, my cut paper collage portraits tell a story of who we are and how we affect the natural world. I want the viewer to be drawn ever closer to these creatures, to be engaged completely in the tale, and to consider their own actions and decisions in our current Eden.
Baltimore artist Lauren Silex comes from generations of creative family. In her own life, she has created beaded jewelry, needle-punched rugs, oil paintings, watercolor, wearable art and hand painted furniture. A concern for the environment in 2008 finally led her to cut paper collage and the use of recycled materials in her artwork.
Portraying natural subjects like insects, birds, fish and mammals, she uses storytelling to illustrate how the natural world interacts with and is affected by civilization. After applying acrylic paint to a wood substrate, Silex meticulously cuts and glues hundreds of pieces of paper from old magazine pages, atlas pages and coffee table books on architecture, gardening, construction and art quilts. Working intuitively, each individual scrap is chosen specifically for its color, pattern or text to help tell the tale of a particular creature. The piece is then embellished with detailing in ink and oil pastel. The result is multilayered and rich with meaning.
Lauren Silex graduated from Prince George's Community College and the Maryland College of Art and Design. She has had solo shows in Los Angeles and Baltimore, and her work is in several private collections around the country. Published on the covers of the Free State Review, The Mighty Line, and Palooka literary journals, her collages have also been awarded Best in Show and People's Choice in 2019.