Lauren Zens – Artist Angle
Medium/Art Form: Visual
When and how did you start making art?
My interest in contemporary abstract and geometric art started in 2008 with a hard-edge assignment during a high school painting class.
I wasn’t by any means a great math or science student, but I loved using line-making tools like protractors, compasses, and rulers to concoct shapes, resulting in eye-catching rhythm and movement. My colorful array of Golden acrylic paint, 3M blue painter’s tape, and a quilting ruler were my most cherished tools.
While I opted to major in arts business in college, I continued to create hard-edge paintings in my spare time, and further developed my art practice once I graduated from college.
What inspires your work?
Living in two metropolitan cities (Milwaukee and Chicago) and growing up exploring the Northwoods of Wisconsin, I find inspiration in the organic and inorganic patterns in nature and architecture.
I am perpetually curious and fascinated by nature’s forms. The spirals, ripples, branchings, meanders, waves, spots, stripes, and cracks in our natural environment organically repeat and multiply in mathematical and scientific complexity, and urban architecture tends to mimic these patterns.
I love that art allows me to investigate these in a tangible way. Art is also focal to me as it is important to people (even though many are not fully aware of that).
My graduate research focused on equitable and inclusive community arts engagement and progressive, student-centered learning. I have worked with many people, youth in particular, who have been completely transformed by art in just minutes of creating.
I love what art can teach a person, and it usually has little to do with the end product they create.
The process, to me, is what is important and I love art for giving us that freedom. Holistically, this is an immense inspiration for me.
How would you describe Green Bay/NE Wisconsin’s arts community?
I currently reside in SE Wisconsin, but will soon be moving to central Wisconsin.
Overall, art often fosters a collaborative spirit, among neighbors, businesses, and artists.
In SE WI, I have worked within the community through arts nonprofits, managing youth programming on the NW side of Milwaukee as well as running process-based art-making workshops for all ages.
Many of those I’ve collaborated with in the community highly value the arts, even if they don’t feel confident in their art-making skills.
People are open and excited about the power of the arts — in all forms and media — as a tool for healing, unity, personal growth, social justice, and economic development.
Within the community of artists themselves, I see a lot of mutual support.
Art is a deeply personal experience and the inevitable transformations of one’s art can be difficult to process (I’m currently experiencing this).
Artists often develop networks of other creators who become close confidants. Sharing time with artist friends has been incredibly soul-filling for me. We all get genuinely enthused for one another as our practices develop.
I’m looking forward to maintaining those connections in Milwaukee while also finding what the arts community in Central WI will bring!
What is the best advice you have for other artists?
I can speak from experience here, because I’m going through some transformation in my practice that’s very common, yet can be profoundly confusing and challenging, for artists.
The reminders I give myself and would relay as advice to other artists are:
1) Practice, develop, learn, repeat.
2) Trust the process.
3) Take one day at a time.
4) Try to create every day.
5) Find and lean on your community.
6) Creation first, sales second.
7) “Artist” IS a profession.
8) Get out in nature.
9) Prioritize your mental and physical wellness.
10) Don’t compare yourself to others — be confident.
Where can people find your work?
People can view and purchase my work and other merchandise on my website — laurenzens.com.
I am also on Instagram and Facebook at @laurenzensart.