Project Atrium: Lauren Fensterstock


March 18, 2017 - June 18, 2017

FREQUENTLY EMPLOYING paper, Plexiglas, and charcoal, Portland-based Lauren Fensterstock creates site-specific installations that render the natural world in an entirely synthetic and monochromatic way. Inspired by gardens and their varying importance from the eighteenth century onward, she distills nature to find the place where it intersects with culture. Fensterstock's monochromatic sculptures appear bleak and sleek from afar, but reveal intricate layers upon closer inspection, where associations-or perhaps disassociations-between mankind and the natural world surface.

Fensterstock transforms the Atrium Gallery into a cabinet of curiosity that expands her interest in natural history and personal collections, principally Holophusicon, an eighteenth-century natural history and ethnographical museum in London, and American artist Robert Smithson's Mirror with Crushed Shells, created during an exploration on the beaches of Sanibel, Florida. Inspired by one quirky collection and a conceptual artwork, Fensterstock will collect shells in her native Maine and Sanibel Island to produce large ornamental cabinets as well as loose, organic stalactites to pepper the wall. At times described as grottos, at others cabinets of curiosities, the physical black elements merge disparate parts into a single organism.

For the very first time, the Atrium Gallery becomes a museum within a museum, where one artist's personal investigations result in a meticulous and powerful site of meaning-part collection, part cave, and part opulent space for reflection.



Artist Profile Lauren Fensterstock

Lauren Fensterstock

Interested in natural history and Modern art, Lauren Fensterstock explores the evolving history of our relationship to nature via elaborate, all-black sculptures and installations. Drawing from the natural imagery in decorative arts traditions, specifically the flora and fauna of Victorian gardens, she creates large-scale works of quilled paper and, most recently, resin cast seashells. Such intricate artworks are constructed in the material of ladies' accomplishments, such as quilled paper and shell work, emphasizing the capacity of traditional female crafts to reflect on the complexities of the world beyond the domestic sphere. 

Fensterstock holds a Master of Fine Arts from the State University of New York at New Paltz and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Parsons School of Design. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the country and appears in many collections, including the Portland Museum of Art, the University of Maine Museum of Art, and Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.

Portrait of the artist. Photo by Greta Rybus.