Lori Larusso earned her BFA from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, with a minor in Women’s Studies, and a MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art’s graduate interdisciplinary program, the Mount Royal School of Art. Recently awarded fellowships include a Visual Artist Fellowship from the MacDowell Colony, the Kentucky Arts Council’s Al Smith Fellowship, a Milton and Sally Avery Fellowship, and the James Rosenquist Artist In Residence at North Dakota State University. Lori maintains a solid studio practice, exhibiting her work locally, nationally, and internationally, and has participated in several residency programs across the US. Lori currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky where she works as a sign painter at a local grocery.
These works reference the myriad of parts that make up any social construct, and the multitude of contributing factors to any situation. I am interested in exploring the unavoidable contradictions which exist in our personal (and collective) systems of belief, by pointing to the complexity of individual situations. These pieces reflect not only on personal experience, but also examine looming traditional and slowly-changing cultural expectations, along with the promise of something better.
My interest in representations of domestic spaces lies in the comfort that is implied, and the complexity that is present in actuality. The domestic sphere is a private place, but we are constantly seeing curated snapshots of domestic life via facebook, blogs, etc. This is no different than the 1950s depictions of women happily slaving away at domestic chores. These new blogs have replaced the old Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, and Woman’s Day magazines. Our “retro” pasts have become some women’s current reality. Our home lives are never that simple or neat, they cannot be summed up in an image of a freshly baked pie, images of toddlers in knitted sweaters and homemade haircuts, or even in a picture of a pile of dirty laundry and the mess that the new puppy made. These images only begin to present a version of what is really going on inside the home.
In the shaped (non-rectangular) pieces, the edges of the painted images are defined by the edges of the actual supports. Several works contain multiple separate pieces that interact within a whole idea. By including only the necessary information needed to complete the idea and composition, aspects of a specific situation or environment are isolated and brought to the forefront.
The title of the series of works, “It’s Not My Birthday, That’s Not My Cake” points to the generic aspect of remembered experiences. These paintings isolate the cake image, sometimes including serving utensils but no personalized information, making the specialness of an individual’s own birthday cake mainstreamed. The cakes appear to be carefully prepared and decorated; everything is nice, but not too nice. This group of works is not attempting to dismantle nostalgia, but point to the complexity of individual situations.
Regardless of our individual upbringings in the US, media and historical representations of generic and stereotypical middle-America remind us of the culture we prefer to present as reality. For this work, I utilize both acquired and invented imagery. No image is without reference.
These two separate yet connected bodies of work question, in part, the everyday search for meaning and fulfillment. Representations of generic middle-America allude to the common feeling of disconnect, as well as the struggle for validation and happiness in daily life.