Other Investigations: Lauren Payne


On collecting and process:

My practice is really focused on my desire to have a relationship with nature. Living in the city can make that difficult. After hoarding experiences through photographs, and video footage while traveling and during residencies, I bring everything I’ve gathered back to my studio. Then I begin make sense of what I have intuitively collected, through an editing process. I have learned to trust my instinct while I’m in the hoarding stages, and question the content later. Everything I have done and continue to do within my practice in one way or another is about connecting. This creates an endless opportunity to work on multiple projects investigating different sides of the same coin.

On materials and medium:

I primarily use photography and video, but I am also really interested in creating site-specific rituals and fleeting experiences to form a mythology around my practice. I like to use these opportunities to create a space for shared experiences. In a sense, I think of these intangible experiences as material, because in the end they inform the rest of the work.


On space and site:

I am particularly interested in the American landscape. Being from Ohio, I have always had a very close relationship/obsession with the Appalachian region. I spent about four years working in West Virginia and Kentucky to understand my fascination for a place I am not from, but have an undeniable connection to. In 2009 I drove cross-country for the first time and had similar feelings of excitement while in these new landscapes (most often mountains). I was confronted with the idea that what I was relating to was much bigger than one place. This really opened my practice up to new rich terrain and I began to think differently about what I was doing and where it had to be done.

Have you participated in residency programs before ACRE? If so, which ones, when and where?

The Homestead AK (link:http://www.thehomesteadak.org/). 2010 (Highly recommended!)

What has your experience at ACRE been like? Has your experience at ACRE affected the work you are making in the studio now? What do you think you got out of this residency now that it’s over?

I relocated to Chicago in 2010 after receiving my MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. I went to ACRE shortly in after and the experience has been invaluable.  ACRE provides a space where exploring, participating, programming, socializing, collaborating, eating, productivity, and dancing all exist symbiotically. What is really great about ACRE is how it extends throughout the entire year through exhibitions and programming. So if you are in Chicago it really makes it easy to maintain and develop relationships that were formed while at the residency. Paired as random roommates, Erin Washington and I took advantage of this aspect of the residency expanding our relationship post-ACRE. Through critical discourse, we realized that the best way to continue our investigations was to return to ACRE collaboratively focusing on where our methodologies converge. The landscape inspired the work that we both produced while in residence in 2011. As part of returning this year we were interested not only in creating folklore around locations that we have imbued with meaning the previous summer, but also in investigating other areas of the property with strong energy created by other artists in the past, or by entities unknown (ie. the infamous haunted row houses). Through mapping, publications, and word of mouth, we hope that these sites will become spaces that future residents will think of as pilgrimage sites. The cyclical nature of this project will thrust the sites beyond our personal pursuits in hopes of strengthening our collective experience.  The result of our collaborative efforts will materialize at the end of this month in our exhibition As Above So Below at Johalla Projects.


As Above So Below opens Friday, January 25th at Johalla Projects in Chicago, IL.

“Connecting with nature and spirituality through process and invented ritual is the driving force within both Lauren Payne and Erin Washington’s work. Their processes intersect with a mutual desire to question the unknown. Presenting new works based upon the collaborators’ return to ACRE, As Above So Below will focus on where these disparate methodologies converge.”