Throughout the past several years, artist Lauren Napolitano has gained wider recognition as an illustrator and fine artist whose unique and instantly-recognizable precise, patterned line work that seems to appropriate traditional, ethnic motifs and patterns from multifarious cultures transcends its oft-categorized Lowbrow style. Like many of the artists and exhibitions that have been previously shown at the Redux Studios & Gallery, Napolitano’s solo show and installation entitled, “Loyal” features a wide variety of materials excavated from the St. Vincent de Paul warehouse in Oakland. The artist carefully examines each element, highlighting the object’s importance or intrinsic value, or in some ways obfuscating the hitherto insignificance assigned to an object, which in turn reveals much about society’s attitudes about what is revered and what is refuse.
Napolitano’s interest in re-purposing obsolescing or antique objects, and creating shrines to their histories as well as their intimate meanings shows a thoughtful attention to the alternative, the bizarre, and the discarded and forgotten. Her own creative application of intricate patterning and line-work is in many ways a visual testamentary of the time and attention she gives to these ordinary pieces of our past. Although she does predominantly work in patterns, Napolitano does utilize a few figurative motifs in her work: snakes, leaves and various flora. “I am obsessed with this idea of story, and how objects tell a story of where they have been…” she has said in an interview Oakland Art Enthusiast conducted with Napolitano last year. “I like to see how much you can tell about a person without them ever speaking a word.” At Redux, a wooden cat adorned in designs and line-work sits lazily along a landscape created by hardback book covers that are stamped with words, or designed in bucolic landscapes that once had meaning, but are now rather recalling their forgotten legacies. In one particularly moving image, Napolitano creates one of her shrines around the advertisement of The Morton’s Salt girl, a well-known icon of Americana expounding upon the innocence of a darling child. However, the artist covers her head to toe in a tribal tattooing design, which shocks the viewer into thinking again about this once ordinary, everyday imagery and its affect in shaping the way we view the world.
Lauren Napolitano’s solo show, “Loyal” will be at Redux Studios & Gallery, 2315 Lincoln Avenue, Alameda through October 5th.