Laurin Koneski – Red Lodge Clay Center

Laurin KoneskiCarbondale, Illinois

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Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident (ASPN) 2022

Born in San Diego in 1986, a young Laurin Koneski was transplanted to rural Southern Illinois in the year 1997 by her parents. Identified as an outsider, she spent her time in pursuit of artistic and nerdy endeavors. Art was then, and continues to be, a refuge, the one area that gives a sense of belonging and respite.

Upon graduating High School in 2004, Laurin began her higher education at John A. Logan Community College, first pursuing a BFA when family pressure and the 2008 financial crisis caused her to shift her focus from art to cosmetology, as this was surely a more responsible career path than art. Laurin focused on supporting her partner by working full time in various dead end jobs while he completed his education in engineering, art fell by the wayside while rent, bills and abuse dominated her life. Eventually Laurin woke up, shut off all the utilities, and moved the hell out. Assisted by her mother she relocated to a small trailer park on the outskirts of Carbondale Illinois. Finally alone she began to paint and regain her humanity, she reconnected with friends, and began enjoying life again. With some life experience under her belt she went about rebuilding her life at 30, though how is one to do that with no money?

The answer is: porn. Not making it, but selling it- and other devices of a sexual nature, to the rural fetishists in the area. The nights were filled with people from all walks of life, mennonites, truckers, q-anon crazies, meth heads, and octogenarians, sex is truly the one thing that brings a community together. The work was lucrative, though customer service was extremely difficult and degrading no matter the setting, after a couple years Laurin made enough money to convince the banks that she was fiscally responsible, so she purchased  a quaint 1920’s bungalow in the historic district of Carbondale. Now that the banks were fooled and with the full support of her partner she decided to step down at her job and return to school, signing up for classes to pursue her BFA at Southern Illinois University.

Originally specializing in painting, she signed up for a range of classes, one of them being ceramics. This was the class Laurin looked forward to the most. She had been drawn to the medium, but never had the chance to get her hands dirty.  During her first class with Sun Young Park something clicked, and there was no going back. Starting with small pieces like dismembered hands and dinner plates she progressed onward. Under the guidance of her Professor, Pattie Chalmers, she has begun making larger pieces pushing the boundaries of what she thought she could accomplish such as a gargantuan head measuring over three feet tall, and an enormous wearable Furby head. Laurin changed her specialization to ceramics and has been focused on bringing her visions of a slightly warped world to the masses ever since.

Sometimes I look around and wonder if anyone sees the same things I do, the imbalance, the inescapable desires of others, the things to be afraid of, the things we don’t want to touch, I want to help people see these things with sensitivity and humor. I desire to have a conversation through my pieces with my audience, engage with them, and have a discussion about the world we live in.