For six years she hosted the jazz show “The Colors of Jazz.” But after a while, she wanted a wider ranging sound. Now her show is called “Audio Saucepan,” and that’s exactly what you get: A sizzling dish holding a little of everything, from Benny Goodman to new music with bumpy sounds that may take some getting used to. Because she includes poetry in her personal creative repertoire, Lauren tosses in a few poems for even more spice. It’s hard to know what the show might bring. Or what she will do next. Clearly, Lauren defies categories. I arrive at her La Cienega studio expecting someone different — another person, someone more simple — a poet who has a radio show. Voice and brevity — that connection makes sense. I do not expect an artist with such a deft hand at forging fabric into stunning, close-tomural-size pieces. Rod Lambert, director of the Santa Fe Community Gallery, says, “The way Lauren manipulates texture and color is amazing. She’s taken quilting to another level and put it on its ear. You don’t even see the craftwork involved.” Lauren exhibited in a show two years ago called Meander with 20 local artists displaying work related to the Santa Fe River. Lambert says, “Her work is meticulous, and becoming more thoughtful. She’s the hardest working woman in show business.” On the walls of her studio, quilted and appliquéd forms depict the great jazz singers. Areas of dotted color turn out to be stitched on letters that turn out to be a poem. Then the islands of shape and color expand into a large face: a self-portrait. This is how to view Lauren: Her parts need to be seen from a distance, and only then do they join, or perhaps overlay, to be more precise. Lauren’s forte with fabric quickly brought her national attention. However, eight years before her fiber artwork traveled to museums across the country, she didn’t even know how to sew. That is Lauren Camp: A woman who pushes, explores, and finds what is just beyond her fingertips.
Photo by David Camp
She pieces together music, fusing offbeat sounds and odd juxtapositions of styles.
Finding Place Lauren grew up just outside of New York City. At 18 she entered Cornell University, later graduating with a degree in human development and family studies. Then she transferred to Emerson College in Boston and earned a master’s in communication. “I studied advertising and public relations. I thought it was the closest I could get to studying art. I wanted to work with markers, colors, and words.” After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Lauren visited a friend in San Francisco
and got a job doing PR with the Red Cross. “It was frustrating writing the press releases. I wanted to make the writing more colorful, but was told to stick to dates and places,” she says. Two years later she began working for Veggie Life as the nutrition editor. In her off hours, she continued “putting things together” — making collages. Then she and the editor, David Camp, decided to merge their lives. “An unlikely match,” she says. “He’s shy and reserved, and I’m not.” Lauren continued writing and doing collages. In 1993 she wanted to make a bed quilt, but didn’t know how to sew. A friend gave her an old sewing machine, and it didn’t take long before Lauren was experimenting with a variety of fabrics, colors, textures, and stitches. She felt a spark like never before. “When I walked into a fabric store, I immediately felt a connection with cloth. It was my first official medium,” she says. >>
Lauren continued on 14