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“I’ve always wanted to push the physical boundaries of space,” says Lauren Frances Moore, a College of Charleston senior whose sculptural installations have spread out of the School of the Art’s studios, into the gallery spaces of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, and all the way to Franconia, Minnesota.
The Atlanta native arrived at the college in 2007 as a business major but stumbled into the sculpture department her freshman year. “I had this gut-wrenching feeling that I must take a sculpture class, so I signed up and never looked back,” she says. “I started with average-size projects in Sculpture I, mainly due to my lack of know-how, and in Sculpture II, I began to push the boundaries.”
Moore’s ideas were bigger than she had the time, money, or knowledge for, but her professors encouraged her to take risks. “I couldn’t get enough of the anything-is-possible mentality,” she says, “I still can’t.” Four years, many projects, and some trial and error later, Moore’s skills and aesthetics have grown, earning her accolades, a collaborative project with her professor Jarod Charzewski, and two grants through the college.
Moore says her installations are about responding to and transforming a physical space. Using building materials such as carpet padding, foam insulation, and synthetic fabrics on constructed forms, she toys with the tension between man-made and natural elements. The materials and concepts inform one another and evolve as each installation progresses. Moore says it’s a natural, fluid process: “I work with materials that I’m attracted to, and I build forms that I find compelling,” she explains. “Both trigger a visceral response and inspire the design.”
Last spring, the young sculptor created a biomorphic tunnel of steel wire and plastic wrap for the “Young Contemporaries 2010” exhibit at The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. Situation Orientation, which transformed the flat lines of the gallery walls into something alive and evocative, intimate and exposed all at once, was awarded “Best in Show.” Then, in June 2010, Moore’s Situation Destination, a welded steel structure covered in pink fiberglass insulation, took over the Saul Alexander Gallery at the Charleston County Public Library. “My main goal was to take this traditional art-viewing space and flip it on its head, to introduce the public, especially children, to the idea that art doesn’t have to hang on a wall or sit on a pedestal.”
After the installation’s completion, Moore spent the summer in Minnesota as part of an Intern Artist Fellowship at the Franconia Sculpture Park, using the outdoors as her backdrop and inspiration for Vessel, a 17- by 31- by 22-foot fabricated-steel tunnel/cave that had to be cut into two pieces and installed with a crane.
Whatever the location, Moore aims for her pieces to entice and inspire activity and refers to “participants” rather than viewers of the work. “I want to create a feeling of approachability and leave the pieces open to interaction and participation,” she says.