Lauren Halsey’s creative practice extends far beyond the gallery walls. Her work is both in and of the community, drawing from the vernacular of South Central Los Angeles to generate visions that energetically cycle back into the geography of their birth, a locale where Halsey’s family has been rooted since the 1920s.
In a fine art context, Halsey’s immersive, built environments are physical manifestations of an energetic flow founded in funk and fantasy—multi-dimensional projections that jump the border from dreams into tangibility. They are flush with symbology, flashing coded language that elevates everyday elements such as hand-painted corner shop signage into mythic realms. This metamorphosis both acknowledges the ephemera’s inherent beauty and empowers the objects to transcend harsh realities through aspirational recontextualization. Halsey plans to eventually implant her large-scale architecture as permanent monuments within the urban landscape of South Central, in a way forming a positive feedback loop between the environment of her inspiration and the work itself.
Having mounted solo exhibitions at Los Angeles’ David Kordansky Gallery, Hammer Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art as well as internationally at Paris’ Foundation Louis Vuitton, Halsey channels her formal art-world success to expand opportunities for those in need closer to home. 2020 was meant to see the emergence of her Summaeverythang Community Center, a physical space for high level educational instruction and social engagement but in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, plans shifted. Instead of folding inward, Halsey pivoted to meet the people at a point of urgent need, launching a weekly food program providing hundreds of bountiful, farm fresh produce boxes free of charge to the residents of Watts and South Central Los Angeles. Through it all, Lauren Halsey remains agile and fluid, reacting to the needs of the community while dreaming new possibilities into being, a future where imagination is the currency of change.