Painter Lauren Boilini, 29, always planned on being an artist — but she’s not sure why.

“I went to art school at the Kansas City Art Institute, and then to graduate school at MICA, where I teach now,” says the Bloomington, Indiana native, who was this year a Sondheim semifinalist. “Answering why I am an artist is one of the hardest things for me. I went to art school initially because I figured everything else I wanted to know I could learn from reading — I’m a big book nerd — and art was something I wanted to take head on.”

Boilini’s large-scale work, which pulses with color (and seemingly with sound), calls to mind the grand, generous scope of some of Grace Hartigan’s Abstract Expressionist canvasses, yet clearly (and/or blurrily) depicts a vision innate to Boilini, one of stampeding stallions (and humans and zebras) that repeatedly rush at you, the unprepared spectator, in a visual riddle that’s entertaining, exhilarating, to study (and finally submit to).

“Bleed to Love Him” — oil on canvas — 90″ x 110″ — 2012
Painted at the Vermont Studio Center in 2012; now on display at BWI.

I talked to the artist about her inspiration and her next move.

What is your process like?

I think my favorite thing about being an artist is that I spent years learning all of the rules, and now I get to break them. Anything goes, and I can make my own reality. For me it is all about being really smart, but 100 percent self-indulgent 100 percent of the time. Everything inspires me — I am trained to see inspiration everywhere. Outside of the art world the thing that inspires me the most is music. I secretly think that music is the most worthwhile artistic pursuit, so I look to the music world for a lot of my influences. Living in Baltimore makes this easier because there are musicians everywhere.

My studio practice has consistently been large-scale oil paintings, though I have begun to work directly on the wall, exploring painting as installation. The dimension of my works relates to the size of the human body and the potential for painting to physically overwhelm the viewer.

I joined a swim team a few years ago and that has been an important part of my practice. Being athletic and aware of my body has helped energize my work, and helped get me out of the art world. Spending an hour or two in the water training every day gives me a lot of time to think and visualize.

Six a.m. practices help me set my day straight so that I can get everything done I need to.

How has your work evolved recently?

Realizing that I can separate what I am working on into different bodies of work has really helped me in the past year or two. I was feeling very scattered, but I have narrowed my vision into separate visions and that has helped. I have always [spent] the summers doing residencies, in places such as Wyoming, Ireland and Vermont, and the time away from my studio has helped.

What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on paintings for a [two-person] show [with Baltimore-based artist James Williams] at Hood College in Frederick Maryland that opens October 19th, and a show in Cincinnati… I just installed new work at the BWI Airport that opens November 2nd. I just completed a mural on Greenmount West, and I am beginning my first major public art commission for the Maryland Department of Public Health Laboratory in East Baltimore.

Boilini invites readers to attend the Open Studio Tour at School 33 on October 20 and 21st, where you can experience talented local artists work in progress — up close and extra personal.

“Studio shot from the Vermont Studio Center where I was an artist-in-residence this July.”
“Rough It Up” — 110″ x 135″ — 2012
“I Got Mine” — oil and charcoal on canvas — 32″ x 32″ — 2012
“Fatal Love” — oil and charcoal on canvas — 60″ x 80″ — 2012
Painted during a residency at the Burren College of Art in Ireland.
“Wind Me Up, Shout Me Out” — oil on canvas — 109″ x 269″ — 2011
Painted during a residency at Jentel Arts in Wyoming.
“Beyond the Pale” — oil on canvas — 109″ x 275″
Painted at Jentel Arts.

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