Like the quilts that populate many of her paintings, graphic artist and Oak Cliff native Lauren Hermann’s future promises to be brilliant, multi-layered, and rooted in the past.
Graduating from DISD’s Talented and Gifted High School in 2000 and from Washington University’s School of Art in 2004, Hermann directly credits DISD with inspiring her career in art. Having worked in fine galleries, participated in traveling art shows, and taught art to eager young children, Hermann plans to make painting and teaching her life’s work.
Although generally interested in art as a child (she often toted a sketch-book), Hermann recognizes one special DISD teacher with introducing her to the world of art. “I always say that it’s a bit of a miracle that I ever found my way to art school,” Hermann explains. Recently-retired TAG art teacher Martha Evans mentored Hermann’s love of painting and convinced her that she could make it in the art world. After two courses with Evans, Hermann says, “I felt as if a whole world was opened up for me. [Evans was] really the one who inspired me to consider art as a feasible and accessible possibility.” She continues, “[Evans’] role as a mentor and a teacher during high school really put me on the path that I have followed, and I am so grateful to have had a person like her to guide my interest and my talent.” After graduating high school, Hermann honed her new-found passion in college by studying art history and painting.
Hermann currently lives and works in Chicago. Brought to the city by a temporary job, she says she soon found herself at a “very posh” gallery on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. But Hermann found the work far removed from the artistic world she loved. “After a month of typing invoices and answering phones, I quit,” she explains; instead, she turned her energies to teaching. Creating and implementing an after-school program that teaches art to children in pre-K through fifth grades, Hermann finds the work personally and professionally invigorating. “So many artists end up teaching as a way to survive,” she says, “I found, to my surprise, that the creativity and the energy from my students enlivens my own studio practice in a new way.”
As an accomplished painter, Hermann’s work has been featured in Chicago and will be on display in Dallas this October in the Bishop Arts District. With a fierce loyalty to her family’s history, Hermann incorporates many aspects of her parents’ and grandparents’ pasts into her work. Family quilts, for example, dominate many of her recent paintings. “The quilts become a sort of landscape of my life and my history, and in the paintings I have literally made them into such.” But the quilts are not merely metaphorical to Hermann, who praises their practical use in both her art and her life: “Generations before me made them. Generations before me slept under them. I sleep under them today. There is a connection within the worn threads of these beloved and familiar quilts to the past as well as to my present.”
While Hermann plans to pursue both her painting and teaching careers, perhaps eventually teaching art in college, she remains dedicated to the past. “Painting is a way of capturing an image and making it permanent,” she says. With one foot in the past and one firmly in her promising future, Hermann reflects that “much of my artwork is centered around the memories of my family history. So much of that has been passed down through stories, and so my artwork makes that history palpable.”