Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Laura Splan

Laura Splan

Laura Splan is a New York City-based mixed media artist. She holds a BFA from UC Irvine where she originally studied Biological Sciences. She received her MFA in Sculpture from Mills College in Oakland, CA. Her conceptually driven work employs a variety of materials and processes that usually have a feminine sensibility about them. Unsettling, biomedical imagery is foiled by more comfortable domestic imagery and craft processes. Likewise, the seemingly familiar and benign are subverted by the anatomical and biological. She often uses her own body in the production of materials, such as blood and discarded facial peels, for her work . She recently became a certified phlebotomist.

Her southern suburban upbringing in Tennessee nurtured her interest in the visual language of femininity, domesticity, and crafts. She explores that language as one that communicates via facade and designations of beauty and order in relation to the body or to the home. Her interest in science and medicine stems from a variety of experiences and interests. Both her father and sister worked for a company that manufactures surgical and medical products such as implants. This fostered her interest in medicine and gave her access to images and information she might otherwise not have had. Health epidemics, bio-terrorism, reality makeover shows, Botox parties, anti-microbial products, and pharmaceutical advertising all serve as fuel for her work.
My work explores perceptions of beauty and horror, comfort and discomfort. I use anatomical and medical imagery as a point of departure to explore these dualities and our ambivalence towards the human body. Viruses, blood, x-rays of bones and viscera can be at once unsettling and enticing. I often combine scientific images and materials with more domestic or familiar ones. The ornamentation of wallpaper or the design of a doily lends a sort of relief in its familiarity and pleasing pattern. This juxtaposition creates a response that fluctuates between seduction and repulsion, comfort and alienation. I try to create work that evokes a dichotomous experience with formal imagery that upon closer inspection reveals some uncomfortable truth about our cultural and biological conditions. My work attempts to challenge our constructed responses to these images by triggering a double take in which viewers re-evaluate their initial perceptions.

I am often inspired by the inherent qualities of a material or process. I enjoy the experimentation that goes into the discovery that the viscosity of blood facilitates its use as “ink” or the materiality of remnant facial peel allows its use as “fabric.” Deciphering the narrative implications and poetic possibilities within these qualities is an important part of my practice. I am interested in an exploration into the historical and contemporary meaning that a culture projects onto an object, material, or image as well as in an investigation into its physical attributes. It is important that the work be reflexive and self-contained -- that not only the form of an object reveal meaning but also the materials and process by which it was made.

View Laura Splan's CV (PDF)

Purse #1TrousseauWallpaper and Negligee #1Wallpaper (detail)Doilies (SARS)Blood ScarfProzac, Thorazine, Zoloft

New York, NY


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