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 the viewer re-evaluates 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 -- how not only the form of an object can reveal meaning but also the materials and process by which it was made.
Laura Splan is a Brooklyn, NY based visual artist. She holds a Bachelor of Art from the University of California, Irvine where she originally studied Biological Sciences but ultimately studied Studio Art. Her conceptually driven work employs a variety of media including sculpture, video, photography, digital media and works on paper. Her objects and images interrogate the visual manifestations of our cultural ambivalence towards the human body. She often use found objects and appropriated images to explore socially constructed perceptions of beauty and horror, order and disorder. Much of her work is inspired by experimentation with materials and processes including blood, cosmetic facial peel and computerized embroidery.
Splan's work has been exhibited in a broad range of curatorial contexts including craft, feminism, technology, design, medicine and ritual. Her work as been exhibited widely at such venues as Museum of Art & Design, International Museum of Surgical Science (Chicago), New York Hall of Science and Jönköpings County Museum (Sweden). She was recently awarded a commission from the Center for Disease Control. In 2007, she received a Jerome Foundation Travel Grant to research the history of the invention of medical instruments. She received an Artist's Grant for her recent residency at the Vermont Studio Center. She was a visiting lecturer at Stanford University in 2011 where she taught "Art & Biology" and "Digital Art". She currently teaches interdisciplinary workshops that explore intersections of Art and Science at Observatory Room (Brooklyn).