Meet the Maker: Gracelee Lawrence
Thursday, March 03 (2022)
Welcome Sculpture Gracelee Lawrence to the shop! Gracelee Lawrence is an incredibly talented artist based in Troy, NY. We've been lucky enough to get to know Gracelee as a regular here at SM CO! We are so incredibly excited that she has began making functional, beautiful art pieces for the home that we are able to stock in the shop, as her work typically lives in the fine-art space. She has attended twenty residencies in the US and abroad and opened her first solo show in New York at Thierry Goldberg in May 2019.

She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sculpture at the University at Albany, SUNY. Among many, many other thing she is an enthusiastic dancer, a lifelong horsewoman, and an aspiring indoor gardener. 

Read on to learn more about Gracelee and her approach to creating her pieces. 
SM CO: I’d love to start off by asking you who you are and what you do?
GL: I am a sculptor, educator, and fruit enthusiast based in Troy, NY. In my work, I think about produce as a vehicle for understanding hegemonic systems of power and control, nutrition and intimacy, and technological invention. I primarily use 3D scanning and 3D printing to make the work, further complicating our understanding of physical/digital reality. I'm an indoor gardener, my dragonfruit plant is doing great! and I love cooking lavish meals with farmers market produce.
SM CO: At what moment did you know that you wanted to pursue your artwork full-time? Is there a particular memory or project in your childhood that looking back made this clear to you?

GL: In my sophomore year of college, I took Sculpture 1 and it truly changed my life. As soon as I learned what sculpture was and what it could do, I was hooked. I knew that this complicated, slippery field of inquiry was the place for me. At first, welding was the apple of my eye. Surprisingly, almost all of my work in undergrad was geometric abstractions made with welded and powder-coated steel rods! While a lot has changed aesthetically since that moment, I am more excited about sculpture than ever.
SM CO: As a sculptor, how do you approach creating artwork that is more accessible + functional for the everyday buyer? Does your ideation process differ + do you have ideas for other functional pieces you’d like to do in the future?

GL: Accessibility is an important aspect of my work in how I think about content. Many folks have held a banana, felt the clammy peel in their palm, have a memory of its fragrance and taste. No matter the scale, the image of a banana still holds aspects of these sense memories. Using produce and the body offer fairly open points of entry into the work, along with the overt use of humor. These inroads can bring folks into the world of the work while more complicated inquiries arise.

In terms of the functional work, I started making these pieces last year as housewares for my own home when I saw a problem that needed to be solved. It became a fun game that I would tackle in virtual reality (VR)- almost all of my housewares are created in a VR sculpting app! So there is a nice reciprocal relationship with the body intrinsically embedded in the work- the VR sculpting is directly utilizing my gestures and translating them into a digital object. Next, I'd like to make some small runs of furniture- I have an idea for a chaise lounge that I'm excited to try!
SM CO: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re NOT in the studio or teaching?

GL: XC ski in the winter, bike in the summer! But to be fair its a toss-up with making decadent fruit/matcha desserts :)