Toying With the World: Works by Laurene Krasny Brown

 In Current Exhibitions

TOYING WITH THE WORLD:
WORKS BY LAURENE KRASNY BROWN

August 7 – December 31, 2021

Laurene Krasny Brown makes small art that sparks curiosity and invites the viewer in for a closer examination. Sometimes playful and always engaging, the artwork seeks to touch people where they live.

In this exhibition, Brown cultivates the intention within the domain of play. Inspired by American folk art, she explores the rules and design of established games such as Checkers and Parcheesi, then goes on to invent her own repeated pattern versions. The artist also investigates imaginative play by creating a series of fictional interiors in relief where everyday life can take surprising turns.

Some of this mostly-paper art is quite small, inviting the viewer to approach a work for closer examination. When an idea warrants a larger investigation, the original statement is multiplied, never exactly repeated, in shifting nuances of color, pattern, surface, shadow, scale, and number. Exploiting subtle differences conforms to an economy of means evident in this artwork.

According to the artist, small acts and gestures can exert power greater than their size would seem to warrant. In the gallery, Brown shares a measured portion of what life can hold if it is noticed and cherished. Laurene states, “From the start, my artwork has attempted to extract and express something emotionally and aesthetically essential from the most humble, intimate swatches of life.”


About Laurene Krasny Brown

Laurene Krasny Brown was born and raised in New York City. She attended the High School of Music and Art as a music major, with higher degrees from Cornell University, Columbia University and a Doctorate in Education from Harvard University. She has broad professional experience in education, the arts, research and children’s cognitive development.

Prior to her career in fine art, Brown authored and, for one title, illustrated seventeen popular picture books for young children. Most recently she collaborated with her husband Marc Brown on their joint publication, Democracy for Dinosaurs: A Guide for Young Citizens.

For the past twenty years, however, she has turned her attention to fine art. Working primarily with paper, Brown has created and exhibited her art both nationally and internationally, with galleries in New York, Boston and on Martha’s Vineyard. She has been a Visiting Artist in Virginia, Greece, France and in Italy, at the American Academy in Rome. Brown is a self-taught artist committed to her craft.


Artist Statement

In my own papery fashion I create work ranging from the recognizably domestic such as woven potholders, quilt tops, game boards and model houses to more abstract expressions in relief or as freestanding structures. All this art represents my mission to better understand and celebrate the daily activities of living, the day to day repetition of chores and small acts that add up to a human life. Home, a place in which these presumably mundane tasks take place, is my starting point. I believe that everyday homey things warrant close observation and appreciation—for their materiality, for their usefulness, for the real possibility that joy, amusement and beauty may be found in them. There is inspiration for me in both the functional objects that are my physical culture and in fine art.

The materials in my work have a domestic presence as well: paper most of all, that most friendly and flexible material; then household, hardware and sewing supplies; and as needed small toys. What often is considered ordinary, even dispensable, has an intimacy for me that captures my imagination. Intimacy carries over into the attention to detail and scale of my work. If an idea warrants a larger presentation, I multiply the single version over and over until it reaches the needed size. No two parts look exactly alike, however; just like life, it is perhaps impossible to precisely repeat oneself. All those slightly shifting nuances—in shades of color, shadow, shape, surface, edges—are essential to my art making.

More recently I have allotted more room in my work for fantasy. After all, the love of pretend play does not necessarily end with childhood. And the sharing of made up narratives has a way of reaching out to everyone, both young and old. With so many families in today’s world being without a home, I feel compelled to speak of this universal need with compassion, respect and yes, even humor.

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