Monumentalization of the Human Form: Interview with Lauren Carly Shaw

When did you become interested in sculpture and the human form as a subject in your work?
I have always been interested in sculpture and the human form. I started making sculptural work while an undergrad at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. I was studying graphic design and took a 3D class as part of the requirements for that program. It became quickly apparent to me that I was not interested in working strictly digitally and needed to get my hands dirty. The human body has always been my main subject of investigation as I am interested in the disconnect that happens when a human form becomes an object. When presenting a sculpture that is objectively human in its physical properties, I aim to challenge the idea of what makes a person human. Is our notion of being human tied innately to the physicality of our forms? How are these objects given intelligibility with the viewers own unique experiences?

Hair People: hirsute figures by Lauren Carly Shaw

Interview and Feature: InFringe Magazine 2019

Hair People
 is a collection of life-size figures covered in synthetic hair, created by Brooklyn based artist Lauren Carly Shaw. Through sculpture and installation, Shaw aims to explore the nature of the human form, allowing the viewer to fully consider the idea of the body and how we view ourselves. “I like the confrontational element of an object that takes up as much space in a room as a person does,” she explains. 

Each of the figures is posed in a different way. One is hunched over, another is curled up on the floor, characteristics which make them appear even more human. “I’m interested in something apathetic, sad, withdrawn or introverted,” Shaw explains. “I want the sculptures to be approachable. When they are withdrawn, people naturally want to console them.” 

Interior wooden skeletons form the base for the figures, which are then enhanced using recycled cardboard, expandable foam and paper-mâché. Shaw explains that the synthetic hair, which is attached last, is the most time-consuming element of all. “One of the biggest struggles is figuring out how the hair is meant to wrap around the figure,” she says, “I try and let the figures’ curves and posture dictate the pattern or ‘hair style’”.