April 26th, 2012

My very first book just came out! You can purchase this amazing piece of literature in print at Create Space or for the Kindle at Amazon

Check out the amazing cover created by the great Jamie Winter Dawson.

Some praise for The Other Side of Silence –

“In the gritty reality of modern Minneapolis, seven individuals struggle through obstacles as unique as they are universally human. In a world like ours, where families are broken, energy seeps away, judgment is passed and children wander, can there really be a presence on the other side of silence that cares about human struggle, let alone intervenes? Lauren Martinez Catlin’s debut novel The Other Side of Silence paints a world with poignant prose that glimmers with hope and grace out of the corner of your eye. The individual threads of story Lauren has captured weave a reality that acknowledges darkness, but speaks of an interconnectedness that catches and encompasses everyone. We all carry a piece of God within ourselves and contain the capacity to be the instrument of compassion that changes someone’s life. Ordinary humans are employed as angels to act on behalf of each other through deceptively ordinary acts in a cycle that omits no one and uplifts us all. In the space of a moment, lives touch in the palm of God.” – Heidi Alford, young adult fiction author

“The Other Side of Silence” explores faith, but doesn’t sugarcoat or mythologize it; instead, it’s a story about regular people coming into contact with something transcendent, a story about the God that exists inside every moment of clarity, embrace with a loved one or decision to keep fighting. The novel is heart-warmingly optimistic, but it also pulls no punches; while humanity’s goodness is on display here, that goodness is shining through a brutal, dark-and-dirty realism. Characters deal with racism, poverty, homophobia and oppressions of all kinds, and the sometimes suffocating bleakness only makes the novel’s various spiritual and emotional payoffs all the more satisfying. To top it all off, it’s written with supreme confidence and remarkable lyrical skill; this is an impressive, powerful debut novel.
Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre, 2-time National Poetry Slam champion

“Several of the chapters are among the most engrossing I’ve read. I couldn’t put the book down until the wee hours on the second night I was reading it, despite my need for sleep. I found many of the scenes deeply compelling, as if they were communicating a truth I didn’t yet understand, but could absorb by finishing the chapter… and the next one… and the next one. The story about one young man’s journey through the discovery of a same-sex attraction and the resulting fall-out with his family and faith community was as true as anything I’ve read, and manages to escape the cliches of the right or left and create a connection to the reader that feels familiar if you’ve had friends in a similar situation.” – Peter Benedict, pastor at River Heights Vineyard Church

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October 15th, 2013

So I haven’t been around much lately. I’ve become a tad bit obsessed with making polymer clay jewelry. It started out as a little endeavor to add a summer-friendly product to my etsy store, but now it’s probably what I think about the most after the cute husband and my lovely daughter. I am having so much fun with it, and there are so many things I can still try. Here’s just a few of the things I’ve been working on.

Jewelry 3

Jewelry 4

Jewelry 5

Jewelry 7

Jewelry 8

I have to say that I’ve been pretty inspired by the artist profiles I’ve been doing. I expected that the last question, what is your unique purpose for creating work, would lead to all manner of profound and earth-shaking answers. I was surprised to find that several artists make art because they like to make art, or because they think it makes people happy, or just because that’s what they do. Hearing that from artists that I really respect and admire has set me free to make these pieces just because I love making them, without having to worry about what kind of impact it’s having on the world or whether this will fulfill the thirst of my soul for significance.

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October 7th, 2013

What do you love about your medium?

I’ve often said I love the way that paper cutting is about transforming an everyday material which we all use all the time, into something amazing, precious and beautiful. It’s almost an alchemical quality. Also, I consider myself as working in a female craft tradition – my mother taught me to sew, my grandmother taught me to knit – these are practices which require repetition, patience and skill in addition to imagination and creativity, and they are small scale, practiced in the home, in the quiet moments.

Emma Van Leest 4

Describe a piece of artwork that you find superficial or boring.

Mine or someone else’s? Lots of art is superficial, decorative even and not boring. I find a lot of conceptual art boring. I guess I’m a bit of a traditionalist in that I want to be visually engaged, I want to entranced by art, I want there to be skill involved, that I can see. I love it when I can see that the hand is involved – it’s not compulsory but I do prefer it, I think.

When did you first call yourself and artist and why?

I can’t remember – I would try it on for size but I never really believed it for myself. At one point I got a tattoo, which in a way was an act of marking a point in time after which I couldn’t turn back, that now (as this was more than 10 years ago, before everyone started getting tattoos) I was definitely different and had chosen a different path. One moment that had a big impact too was when I did my first commercial solo show, and someone else, a big collector, said it to me that I was now a real artist – then I felt some affirmation! I was a bit insecure back then. I’m much more comfortable with it now. Recently someone joked to me about being paid so I ‘don’t feel like a hobbyist’ and I responded very firmly that I was definitely not a hobbyist!

Emma Van Leest

Describe a piece of artwork and/or an artist that you find consistently inspiring.

I love Vermeer’s work. The way the light hits everyday objects, making them magical, it makes you remember that everyday things are beautiful and transcendent too. In fact, I love the whole story of Vermeer – a normal man with normal, everyday concerns such as paying the bills and running a business, but he quietly produced these incredible works about everyday events and concerns.

Emma Van Leest 2

What is your unique purpose for creating work?

I don’t even know anymore, it’s my profession. It’s what I do, I just don’t even think about it. The process started a decade ago and I’m just rolling with it.

Emma Van Leest 3

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Posted in Sculpture |
October 1st, 2013

If you’ve never seen animated poetry, I am delighted to be the first to introduce you. There is something so perfectly gelled in the combination of short film and poetry; I’ve never seen one that I don’t like. But I have a particular fondness for the poems of Todd Boss, and so here is one of his lovely pieces put into pictures by Emma Burghardt and lulled to music by Debra Barsha.

Also, you should check out Motion Poems, because they are responsible for a great deal of this artwork. That organization connects film makers with poets and adds a little magic.

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September 27th, 2013

So I’m cheating a little today, picking one of the classics instead of scouring the world for a new and brilliant artist with a still-beating heart. But I love Anne Sexton and I love her fairy tale poems the most. I love how Sexton shifts from insidious innuendo to face-smacking sarcasm in one turn of phrase, how she turns all the old stories on their heads. It’s long, but you should read it anyway. If you begin, you will almost certainly finish.

Rapunzel

A woman
who loves a woman
is forever young.
The mentor
and the student
feed off each other.
Many a girl
had an old aunt
who locked her in the study
to keep the boys away.
They would play rummy
or lie on the couch
and touch and touch.
Old breast against young breast…
Let your dress fall down your shoulder,
come touch a copy of you
for I am at the mercy of rain,
for I have left the three Christs of Ypsilanti
for I have left the long naps of Ann Arbor
and the church spires have turned to stumps.
The sea bangs into my cloister
for the politicians are dying,
and dying so hold me, my young dear,
hold me…
The yellow rose will turn to cinder
and New York City will fall in
before we are done so hold me,
my young dear, hold me.
Put your pale arms around my neck.
Let me hold your heart like a flower
lest it bloom and collapse.
Give me your skin
as sheer as a cobweb,
let me open it up
and listen in and scoop out the dark.
Give me your nether lips
all puffy with their art
and I will give you angel fire in return.
We are two clouds
glistening in the bottle glass.
We are two birds
washing in the same mirror.
We were fair game
but we have kept out of the cesspool.
We are strong.
We are the good ones.
Do not discover us
for we lie together all in green
like pond weeds.
Hold me, my young dear, hold me.
They touch their delicate watches
one at a time.
They dance to the lute
two at a time.
They are as tender as bog moss.
They play mother-me-do
all day.
A woman
who loves a woman
is forever young.
Once there was a witch’s garden
more beautiful than Eve’s
with carrots growing like little fish,
with many tomatoes rich as frogs,
onions as ingrown as hearts,
the squash singing like a dolphin
and one patch given over wholly to magic –
rampion, a kind of salad root
a kind of harebell more potent than penicillin,
growing leaf by leaf, skin by skin.
as rapt and as fluid as Isadoran Duncan.
However the witch’s garden was kept locked
and each day a woman who was with child
looked upon the rampion wildly,
fancying that she would die
if she could not have it.
Her husband feared for her welfare
and thus climbed into the garden
to fetch the life-giving tubers.
Ah ha, cried the witch,
whose proper name was Mother Gothel,
you are a thief and now you will die.
However they made a trade,
typical enough in those times.
He promised his child to Mother Gothel
so of course when it was born
she took the child away with her.
She gave the child the name Rapunzel,
another name for the life-giving rampion.
Because Rapunzel was a beautiful girl
Mother Gothel treasured her beyond all things.
As she grew older Mother Gothel thought:
None but I will ever see her or touch her.
She locked her in a tow without a door
or a staircase. It had only a high window.
When the witch wanted to enter she cried’
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.
Rapunzel’s hair fell to the ground like a rainbow.
It was as strong as a dandelion
and as strong as a dog leash.
Hand over hand she shinnied up
the hair like a sailor
and there in the stone-cold room,
as cold as a museum,
Mother Gothel cried:
Hold me, my young dear, hold me,
and thus they played mother-me-do.
Years later a prince came by
and heard Rapunzel singing her loneliness.
That song pierced his heart like a valentine
but he could find no way to get to her.
Like a chameleon he hid himself among the trees
and watched the witch ascend the swinging hair.
The next day he himself called out:
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,
and thus they met and he declared his love.
What is this beast, she thought,
with muscles on his arms
like a bag of snakes?
What is this moss on his legs?
What prickly plant grows on his cheeks?
What is this voice as deep as a dog?
Yet he dazzled her with his answers.
Yet he dazzled her with his dancing stick.
They lay together upon the yellowy threads,
swimming through them
like minnows through kelp
and they sang out benedictions like the Pope.
Each day he brought her a skein of silk
to fashion a ladder so they could both escape.
But Mother Gothel discovered the plot
and cut off Rapunzel’s hair to her ears
and took her into the forest to repent.
When the prince came the witch fastened
the hair to a hook and let it down.
When he saw Rapunzel had been banished
he flung himself out of the tower, a side of beef.
He was blinded by thorns that prickled him like tacks.
As blind as Oedipus he wandered for years
until he heard a song that pierced his heart
like that long-ago valentine.
As he kissed Rapunzel her tears fell on his eyes
and in the manner of such cure-alls
his sight was suddenly restored.
They lived happily as you might expect
proving that mother-me-do
can be outgrown,
just as the fish on Friday,
just as a tricycle.
The world, some say,
is made up of couples.
A rose must have a stem.
As for Mother Gothel,
her heart shrank to the size of a pin,
never again to say: Hold me, my young dear,
hold me,
and only as she dreamed of the yellow hair
did moonlight sift into her mouth.

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Posted in Poetry |
September 26th, 2013

While on a search for something terribly specific, I ran across this amazing piece by Sara L’étrange. It has absolutely nothing to do with what I was looking for, but it is fantastic, and that is the kind of day it has been.

Sara L'trange

Sara L’étrange works almost exclusively with gel pen, and her artist statement has some really wonderful language about the nature of working with a medium that can’t be painted over, erased, or moved once it’s down. I really kind of love her take on it, it’s well worth a read.

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September 24th, 2013

I hate to admit this, but when choosing artwork to post on this page I often run through potential objections that could be made to a certain piece. I worry that people will find the artwork uninspiring, confusing, too literal or too abstract, and I can make myself crazy that way. There are many reasons I can think of that someone might not fully appreciate this gorgeous song by Secret Garden, but I can’t help myself. I’ve listened to it a lot of times now (mostly in an unsuccessful search for a youtube version without a nature montage), and every time it has the same effect on me. It feels like entering cathedral, like watching world class ballet, like meditating, like being prayed for. If you’re very offended by religious themes, you might want to skip this one, but if you’re even a little open to it, please give it a try. It really is lovely.

If you love this music like I do, you might want to click here and peruse some of their albums.

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September 23rd, 2013

That wonderful, fanciful, fantastic food artist, Patricia Arribálzaga, whom I featured a while back was kind enough to respond to my request for a short interview. I love her concise, to-the-point responses; she radiates confidence and certainty about her craft.

Cakes Haute Couture 6

What do you love about your medium?

I love working with edible material, my art is ephemeral, my art object are dematerialized when people eat it

Cakes Haute Couture

Describe a piece of artwork that you find superficial or boring.

In my case I find boring the artwork that you can find in every places denoting lack of surprise and personality .

Cakes Haute Couture 2

When did you first call yourself an artist, and why?

When I was around 7 years old when I felt a strong emotion with the result of my drawings and hunger to continue working.

Cakes Haute Couture 3

Describe a piece of artwork and/or an artist that you find consistently inspiring.

The silence of William Turner, the poetry of Fragonard and the colours of Monet

Cakes Haute Couture 4

What is your unique purpose for creating work?

Enjoying expressing myself trough my edible art

Cakes Haute Couture 5

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September 18th, 2013

I’ve started a new little endeavor recently, making jewelry from polymer clay. I’ve successfully created one respectable piece with a minimal amount of cursing. I love the range of polymer clay, how it can look like leather, glass, stone, wood, ceramic, whatever you can imagine. It’s a joy to work with a medium like that.

Which brings me to today’s artist, Nihal Erpeden, whom I came across while I was looking for a little inspiration (hubris, really. There’s nothing I saw that I can even close to approximate), and I found this amazing jewelry artist.

Nihal Erpeden

I love how she combines the free-form, organic detail on a surface so precise and geometric. It really is lovely, and anyone would be lucky to own such a piece.

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September 17th, 2013

So its been a bit of a day. Running injury, weepy kiddos, and an 18-month old who just learned how to stamp her foot and say “Nnnnnoooooo!” in public. Even now my daughter and the lovely little girl I watch occasionally are upstairs jumping up and down in their cribs just in case I thought they might be sleeping. So when I saw this dramatic photograph by Federico Bebber, it really spoke to the kind of fractured stress I’ve been feeling.

Bipolar Day

Bipolar Day

Federico Bebber‘s work is a little creepier than I usually prefer, but it is perfect for this kind of day. In his artist statement, he says that these images are a result of restlessness caused by discomfort. This guy has my number for sure, and I love that even such dark and frustrating emotions can result in this kind of beautifully detailed and profound work.

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September 16th, 2013

Today I bring you an artist profile for an amazing mixed media artist, David Brady. David Brady uses found objects, sketches, paint, and all manner of other mediums to create these hauntingly beautiful creations. He is also a distant relative of mine, so I’ve gotten the benefit of some of his artist wisdom since I was pretty small. He was one of the first people to demonstrate how an artist can take themselves seriously, press into new and weird experiences, and still laugh at things that are funny. Here’s some about his work in his own words.

What do you love about your medium?

I do love taking discarded objects, things that someone has no use for and bringing it back to life in a completely different context. The essence of being a mixed media or one that works with an unlimited source of material is how I view creativity, one with no rules.

My One and Only

My One and Only

Describe a piece of artwork that you find superficial or boring.

Where do I start, there is quite a bit of art that has nothing to say or reflect any emotion or truth. Art has always had a much bigger responsibility and purpose that most artists grasp. To answer your question…pretty much any art that has been in any hotel room i’ve stayed in. I don’t go home and listen to elevator music either.

Shielded Detail

Shielded Detail

When did you first call yourself an artist and why?

I don’t really see myself as an artist, rather simply a creative person. I don’t like the paradigm that goes with the artists label as it is quite confining.

Reaching

Reaching

Describe a piece of artwork and/or an artist that you find consistently inspiring.

I am constantly inspired by artists that broke away from their successes and moved into unchartered territory creatively. Miles Davis and Duke Ellington music wise and visually Tim Hawkinson, Ai Weiwei, Francis Bacon, Picasso, Paul Klee and David Hockney to name only a few.

Self-Doubt

Self-Doubt

What is your unique purpose for creating work?
As they say “you were given a unique gift” so I’ve taken that to heart and work hard and being honest in my work. My purpose is to educate others on the value and relevance of art today, especially in our media saturated world. Art is still the king of when it comes to “a quiet moment of reflection”. I strive to tell stories and visually explore emotions that we are often afraid of to help others connect to themselves and see the world around them differently.

The Big Wheel

The Big Wheel

Brady’s work is currently on view at FIVE08 Gallery in Santa Monica. Wed-Sat. 1-7p. 310-994-9400

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