MFA Thesis Exhibit

Lauren Havel

Alfred-Düsseldorf Painting

Artist Statement

A girl on her knees is puking in an alley; her friend holds her hair. A disk jockey is blasting sick beats unaware of the chaos that ensues on the dance floor. A lone soul basked in solitude by light from a motel pool. A group of women, surrounded by a plume of smoke, sit and talk while shot glasses and limes are scattered on the table. Three weathered small-town kids sit under the glow of a neon moon. In the early morning light a trash can holds a bouquet of flowers, wilted and unwanted. These are the narratives I collect and choose to translate into paintings.

I’m not looking to explore bar culture but rather I am investigating narratives of people seeking emotional release. These narratives tend to take place in public and noisy atmospheres but often convey emotions of loneliness, anxiety or chaos. In this body of work, I am painting what I know through observation, photography and memory. While using a process that utilizes washy paint floating on smooth surface, I paint figures in vulnerable states to deal with ideas of solitude, stimulation and interpersonal connection. I’m painting what happens when constraint is left at the door and inhibition is able to run wild and free. I paint the party, the sloppy aftermath, and the mundane events that happen in between. I paint the loneliness that is somehow still present in a crowded room. I paint the moments that were supposed to be fun. I paint bar scenes because they are enduring evidence of the human condition. Whether it’s a lively little room playing salsa music, a moody discoteck, an upscale bar or a honky tonk, they are places where people seek escape from their troubles, or escape from being themselves. The setting of bars in my paintings act as psychological spaces: limbo realms that offer freedom.