Friday night I had the opportunity to attend the opening of 2014 NCECA Emerging Artist Lauren Mabry’s solo show, Passages, at Belger Crane Yard Red Star Studios in Kansas City, and she was kind enough to take a moment out of her busy night to speak to me about her experiences as an emerging artist.
Lauren’s first NCECA exposure came in 2002, when she participated in the annual K-12 show. In 2o14, she presented in a panel titled “No Lesson Plan,” (in which three graduates from Verona Area High School achieved national success. Why? Because critical thinking, creative problem solving, physical work, the joy of making, and personal responsibility are emphasized in Verona’s clay program. Teacher Becker leads a panel that explores the careers of these graduates. See slideshow here.) That same year, her journey came full circle when she was presented as an NCECA Emerging Artist at the conference in Milwaukee.
When asked what the best part about winning the award was, Lauren quickly replied “receiving confirmation from the ceramic community.” She had applied the year before and been rejected, but as a goal-oriented person Lauren didn’t let that stop her from moving forward and applying again, thankfully. She said she has her goals set, and has worked to achieve them. From Lauren: “I worked hard, I went to school, I developed my work, I was out there… and I felt I had emerged. To have that recognition from the community was the best.” Receiving that acknowledgement and recognition of her hard work from the ceramics world was the greatest confirmation that she was reaching those goals. For her, it wasn’t about the show, or the lectures, or displaying her work- though she enjoyed those parts- it was that sense of affirmation.
This past year, Lauren has continued to follow her plan, and in the wake of earning status as an Emerging Artist has had her work exhibited in the NCECA Biennial 2014, at the SOFA exposition in Chicago, Art Market Hamptons and Art Miami with the Mindy Solomon Gallery, and with Independent Art Projects courtesy of Ferrin Contemporary, been a resident artist at Mission Clay Industries and the LH Project, lectured at the Kansas City Art Institute, Arizona State, and Harvard University, exhibited at Red Star, Eutectic Gallery in Portland, received an Independence Foundation Grant and been a PEW Fellowship Nominee. This fall she will be an invited artist at the Jigdezhen International Ceramics Center.