A Painting Worth a Thousand Words

Lauren Chapman invites viewers to self-interpret a woman's world

These are some photos Alyssa-Leigh Willey took of the paintings by our Spring 2017 artist in residence, Lauren Chapman.

These are some photos Alyssa-Leigh Willey took of the paintings by our Spring 2017 artist in residence, Lauren Chapman.

Lauren Chapman is a senior in USC’s BFA painting program. She’s an artist who conveys in a painting what cannot be conveyed through words. She understands what it is to be a woman and translates that directly onto a canvas for all to see. And she knows without a doubt that being an artist is exactly what she is supposed to do.

“My entire career before college, like in highschool and everything, everyone was just like, ‘You’re an artist. You’re an artist,’” Chapman said. “Then you get to college and it’s like, ‘Okay, now, you can’t be an artist. Anything but an artist.’”

In response to the change of sentiment regarding her future as an artist, she went into a business program and later went into art education. She almost finished the program before she had the opportunity to go to Italy to study abroad for three weeks, a trip that made her change course.

“Everything is just so old and historic and these beautiful statues everywhere, and amazing art that I’d never seen, you know,” Chapman said. “And I was just so inspired and like, ‘This is what I love. I really just wanna keep pursuing this.’”

That, and an opportunity to have a solo exhibition in Spirit Lake, Iowa gave her the push she needed to change her course of study one last time to the Bachelor of Fine Arts painting program.

Now she usually paints a piece in three weeks, with most of her paintings four feet by five feet. Her new project is an exception in size. It is a nine foot tall work that she describes as a “really large paper doll” with three hundred bees covering it.

“And it’s just kind of like, ‘What would you feel if you had a bunch of bees on you,

stinging you?’” Chapman said. “I feel like a lot of times that’s how it feels being a woman... You always feel like there’s this eye on you.”

Her paintings hold a power over the viewer, they enthrall. Many of her works, which can be seen on her website artbylaurenchapman.com, feature women painted in various styles, including Chapman’s own favorite of her works, “White Rabbit”, which can be found in McMaster. “It’s supposed to just invoke [the] anxiety of being a woman. Who knows what she’s going through,” Chapman said.

In her last semester of college, with a solo exhibition and an art residency under her belt, she is now looking to graduate programs and art galleries.

“You just paint what you’re feeling and you paint a lot. You have to paint a ton or you have to make a ton of sculptures or whatever you’re doing, just do a lot of it,” Chapman said as advice for aspiring artists. “Because that’s how you learn your style, your personal style... I would just say, ‘Jump in. Never question yourself, ‘cause you’re right. And if it’s completely different than what other people are doing, I think that’s a good thing.’” 

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