LAUREN SIMKIN BERKE
Drawing is my first language, though I don’t think that is terribly unusual. In The Undressed Art: Why We Draw, Peter Steinhart starts by looking at the place of drawing in early development. He says most children stop drawing once they are able to communicate better linguistically then they can with drawings. When non-drawing adults talk about not being able to draw, what seems to have happened is their drawing skill level is frozen at that moment when they were able to express themselves clearly with words, and they stopped spending as much time drawing as they had up until that point. My linguistic skills took a while to catch up with my ability to communicate with drawings (assuming that ever really happened). While I am now capable of clearly speaking and writing, drawing continues to be the means of communication with which I am most fluent.
In First Language I am presenting original drawings on papers. These pieces were created between 2007 and 2019, and include: doodles, drawings based on found vintage photographs, and preliminary rough sketches, final linework, and color separations for illustration work. There are drawings that were originally created as illustrations for The New York Times, The Paris Review, Out, The Advocate, The Boston Globe, and Smithsonian Magazine, covering topics such as information technology, gun violence, Shakespeare, lesbian hairstyles, current affairs, world war II, and important women often left out of the story of history.
Most of the pieces included were drawn with dip pens using very fine nibs. They were mostly drawn on Zerkall Frankfurt paper, which is made at 22” x 30”, and I tear down to various sizes (usually 1/8th or 1/16th of the full size). They have been floated so you can see the natural deckled edges, the torn edges, and all the markings that emerge from the drawing process, but are not the primary drawings… these extra markings look like something in between a painter’s palette and marginalia in an imagined language.
Until now I have primarily shown work that were translations of my drawings into other mediums (paintings, etchings, collages, etc.), though I have always thought of the drawings as my real work. Not exhibiting drawings on paper seems to have had something to do with not wanting to part with them… not wanting to show the thing that people tend to most want to see… wanting to keep them for myself… a sort of artistic hoarding. As much as I enjoy being my own semi-organized/semi-chaotic archive, it seems time to allow at least some of my drawings out into the world, to interact with people more directly.
Past Solo Exhibitions:
Neither The Other Or Myself, 2017
Excavations and Adaptations, 2009
A Text, A Fiction, A Fissured Envelope, 2008
Past Group Exhibitions:
Wish you were here, 2015, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005
Generations 6, 2008
Generations 7, 2010