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Lauren Halsey’s ‘Afrofuturistic, Ancient, Funkified Space Ship’ in Western Art

American contemporary artist Lauren Halsey is well-known for her architectural, sculptural, and installation pieces. Her work frequently examines issues of the Black community, culture, and urbanism, especially in her own Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, California, in 1987, Lauren Halsey was born. She received her MFA from Yale University School of Art after attending the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).

The rich cultural and socioeconomic dynamics of South Central Los Angeles and larger African diasporic traditions significantly influence Halsey’s work. Themes like resistance, community, and identity are all explored throughout Halsey’s artwork. She frequently combines social issues, Los Angeles’s cultural scene, and African American history. She works with various materials, such as commonplace materials, architectural details, and discovered artefacts. Her installations frequently feature vivid colours, writing, and symbols.

Lauren Halsey, the east side of south-central Los Angeles hieroglyph prototype architecture (I), 2022, installation view at the Roof Garden Commission. ©Lauren Halsey. Courtesy of the artist; David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles/New York. Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

This installation, one of her most ambitious endeavours, is influenced by both modern urban culture and the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt. It entails erecting a monument in the open space honouring the neighbourhood and past of Los Angeles’ Crenshaw section. This endeavour is a neighborhood-based art and social advocacy project. To give fresh food and other resources to underprivileged neighbourhoods in South Central Los Angeles, Halsey built the Summaeverythang Community Centre.

I studied architecture at California College of the Arts, where some assignments were completed with manual drawing, but for the most part we worked with wild computer rendering programs. Our prompts had conceptual and logistic limitations, but they didn’t oblige us to consider very real demographics. -Lauren Halsey

Significant institutions, including the New Museum in New York, the Hammer Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, have hosted exhibitions of Halsey’s artwork. Her immersive and thought-provoking installations have attracted a lot of attention. Halsey has won numerous vital honours, such as the Frieze Artist Award and the Mohn Award from the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.” biennial. Halsey’s art is praised for its potent critique of urban life and for elevating the perspectives and experiences of underrepresented groups. Her distinctive fusing of activism, community, and art style has made her a prominent figure in modern art. 

Renowned modern artist Lauren Halsey is famous for her avant-garde and socially conscious pieces honouring Black culture and community. The South Central Los Angeles neighbourhood where Halsey was raised is frequently the subject of her artwork. She creates artwork that profoundly connects with the real-life realities of her community by incorporating aspects of the local architecture, social challenges, and culture into her works. 

Lauren Halsey. Photo by Russell Hamilton. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles/New York.

Afrofuturistic motifs are combined with fantasy aspects in Halsey’s artwork. This method allows her to investigate hypothetical futures and alternate realities that celebrate and redefine Black cultural history and identity. “The Crenshaw District Hieroglyph Project,” a dynamic public work that turns an empty lot into a venue for artistic expression, is one of her most well-known initiatives. The project comprises several etched panels representing the community’s past, present, and future. The panels are modelled by both local graffiti and Egyptian hieroglyphs. 

I wanted to build a concrete cave with waterfalls that not only functions as a funky transcendental warehouse of artworks and local cultural artifacts, but also continues to accumulate archival materials over the course of the exhibition. I would love for the installation to be constantly used for various programming, but there are many limitations within the museum structure. There have been a few performances, lectures, and scheduled talks in conjunction with the exhibition, but I’m hoping for it to be used more as a platform for other museum activities.  We’ll see what happens. -Lauren Halsey

Halsey uses a variety of mediums, ranging from conventional art supplies to commonplace objects and architectural elements. The boundaries between fine art and street art are blurred by this eclectic combination, which increases the reach and appeal of her work to a broader audience. Due to her contributions to the art world, Halsey has won numerous honours, including residencies and major grants. Significant organisations like the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Hammer Museum have shown her work, solidifying her position as an influential contemporary artist. 

Halsey is dedicated to activism, female empowerment, and her musical endeavours. She advocates for the rights and visibility of marginalised populations by addressing topics like socioeconomic injustice, structural racism, and gentrification using her platform.  

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