Lauren BuschekChicago, Illinois

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident  2023

Lauren Buschek is a ceramic artist from a small town in Illinois, about an hour south of Chicago. She received her BFA in ceramics at Governors State University in May of 2021, and underwent a Post Bac Residency at the University of Hartford from 2021-2022. She specializes in abstract figurative ceramic sculpture dealing with feminist topics, but also creates functional ceramic works and mixed media.

My current work is a series of sculptural ceramic self-portraits that represent my healing journey from sexual abuse. These abstracted figurative forms and installations embody rage, violence, body dysmorphia, the abject, and discomfort, as well as recovery.

My process, materials, and incorporation of mixed media objects allow me to convey the impact of abuse. I use a coil method of building because it invokes a cathartic response through the meditative, repetitive nature of the process, as well as the direct touch and manipulation of the clay. I use texture and a very thin liquid clay called terra sigillata to create a skin-like surface. Creating skin folds adds to the flesh-like texture and aids in creating a look of bodily trauma. Raised slip dots are used to create an irritated chicken skin or goose bump texture. Handprints focus on the haunting memories and the survivor. Non ceramic materials such as hair are used to convey the emotional, psychological and physical damage of abuse and evoke a visceral reaction in the viewer. In addition to traditional glaze, silicon and gloss medium create the appearance of gooey, bodily fluids. Metal meat hooks, chains and other implements add a violent harshness against the fleshy pieces they are piercing through. The abject disturbs norms. The norm in society is to pretend sexual abuse doesn’t happen and victims are expected to pretend it didn’t happen. Using the abject in my work generates discomfort and awareness. Disturbing this norm will eventually end the stigma and shame associated with abuse and create empathy.

Making and sharing these works allows me to have control and a voice when I usually feel like I don’t. They allow me to share the truth. I also hope this work may help others who have experienced similar traumas heal and feel less alone.