I am an artist, an arts educator and an activist, each role informing and complementing the others. I came of age in the late 1960’s during the beginning movements for social and environmental justice and those ideals continue to inform my practice.
My earlier body of work (1979-2000) focused on environmentally-situated performances and was often co-created with the seminal groups Motion and Contraband.
Since 2000 there has been a shift towards creating permanent environments to frame the dramas and comedies of everyday life. Often this means the creation of public landscapes, edible gardens and urban "farms" where there was only asphalt, weeds and chainlink fencing. Projects are enhanced with visual art and performance and are supported by public funds, local businesses and the “sweat equity” of participants.
I was trained in Sculpture at UCLA and Landscape Architecture at UCBerkeley Extension.
Most of my work has been in the San Francisco Bay Area, but performance projects have also been developed and presented in major cities all across the US and in Russia.
I currently teach mentorship courses through the Center for Art and Public Life at California College of the Arts, Oakland. These classes are a powerful bridge between Oakland teens and college art students who meet to make both digital media and also work on enhancing our local environment.
I am available for commissions, residencies, consultations, lectures and teaching both nationally and internationally. I welcome collaborations with local artists, organizations and communities. Se habla espanol.
Grants and awards have come from all levels including the NEA, the CAC, City of Oakland Cultural Arts, the Eureka Fellowship, Potrero Nuevo Awards, the Zellerbach Family Fund, Institute of Noetic Sciences, the Clinton-Walker Foundation, the LEF Foundation and New Langton Arts Interdisciplinary Awards.
Lauren Elder's Projects celebrate Art in Everyday Life. They take place at the intersection of environmental design and visual art and are animated by social engagement practices and performance . Under the banner of "Ambiente", this is art made with, by and for you and your neighbors: public school students, housewives, risky teens, military vets, labor union workers, teachers , public housing tenants, digital whiz-kids and other adventurous artists. This is art made with commonplace materials as taught by a grandmother with a box marked "Strings Too Short to Save". This is art made right on your doorstep, in the vacant lot, on a street corner, in the local schoolyard-turned-park. This is art that insists you see a parking garage as a potential theater, a patch of asphalt as a garden.
25\'W x 175\' L
2004 - 2
3'W x' 3'D x 5'H