Lauren Kelley Collect Them All! Soft Brown Narratives

September 1, 2006 – October 14, 2006

Artist Statement

“Big Gurl is a playful 12 min video that animates various brands of African-American dolls. All the doll characters in this video are navigating real life situations like body image, beauty, women’s health, consumerism, and relationships.This video is about the scale of “small things” occupying a larger-than-life space in daily life.

This piece is also a response to my understanding of feminist politics during the 60s that altered society’s present day notions of women as soft, delicate, and vulnerable. Being perceived as vulnerable is not a typical challenge for an African-American woman like myself. The historical perception of the black woman as strong, often equates to being handled like thoroughbreds (socially and in the workplace)or stereotyped as callused.The modern day equivalent of a doll in the black community is the “video vixen”, but this plastic representation isn’t enough to correct the typecasting that is assigned to those who aren’t rap video material. The manufactured brown figures in Big Gurl, morph in shape, style, and behavior, while still are regarded as the archetype of femininity.”

Artist Bio

Lauren Kelley has received numerous awards for her work, including the Outstanding ArtFaculty Member award from Prarie View A and M University, Prarie View, TX (2004); theInterdisciplinary Fellowship from the Illinois ArtCouncil, Chicago, IL (2002); and the MFAFellowship, School of the Art Institute of Chicago,Chicago, IL (1999). Her work has been seen in exhibitions including “Project Row Houses Round 21 ½” , Project Row Houses,Houston, TX (2004); “Telling our Story: The Art ofYBW”, Prairie State College, ChicagoHeights, IL (2003); “Burnt, Fried, Pulled, and Curled”, curated by Dawoud Bey, Hyde ParkArt Center, Chicago, IL (2002); and “Wig Works”, DiversWorks, Houston, TX (2001). She has lectured at the Glassell School, Museum of FineArts Houston (2005) and SouthwestTexas State University, History Department (2000).Kelley received her BFA from theMaryland Institute College of Art,Baltimore, MD (1997); and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL (1999).She is currently an instructor at PrairieView A&M University.