Laura Van Duren is an Oakland, California based sculptor whose materials are a mashup of ceramics, glycerin soap, thread and recycled furniture. Her work has been shown throughout California and the U.S. She is one of the founding members of Mercury 20 Gallery, situated in the Oakland Art Murmur district. She received her BFA in drawing from Carnegie Mellon University and completed her MFA in sculpture at San Francisco State University in 2017. Her studio is situated in the historic Peter Voulkos building known as “The Dome”. She works with the Voulkos family helping to manage the archival aspect of his collection which has had a profound influence on her practice. She is also an adjunct professor at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California where she teaches ceramics. Teaching is a vital source of joy for Laura, as sharing her passion for art and creating the context for inspiration for others, is part of what brings life into her own artistic process.
Artist Statement 2022
My work encompasses both the fragility and resilience of the body utilizing a seductive language that turns forms inside out and references antiquated medical textbooks from 1902. Using a wide range of materials including reclaimed wood, inner-tubes, stitched vinyl, glycerin and ceramic, I create abstract work that balances rigidness with fluidity. These surreal sculptures reference the principles of structure and fluidity that govern our lives, as well as the hidden landscapes of water and bone within every human body, reminding us of these contrasting yet interdependent forces that hold us together. These visceral forms draw the observer into a choreography of discovery, enticing a sense of touch, pulling the viewer closer to explore emotional states of being and the way our minds and bodies desire to hold on to certainty in times of constant change.