Monday, September 20, 2010

One week left to see Truth Scope!

Here is a view of the inside of the Truth Scope from the ceiling. If you look closely you can see I am in the cage writing. This photo is giving me all kinds of new ideas for the next piece!
The words that people left behind held me in an emotional grip as I read through all of them. The raw confessions make you realize you are not alone with your own struggles. Someone wrote RAPE very large over the other smaller words. If that doesn't jerk at your heart I don't know that anything will.

This view gives you a good idea of the scale.
There is only one week left to see the Truth Scope at Mercury 20 Gallery, 475 25th Street, Oakland, Ca
Gallery hours are
Thursday - Saturday 12:00 - 6:00

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lamorinda Weekly covers solo show at Mercury 20 Gallery

This article appeared in the Lamorinda Weekly, September 15, 2010.

Laura van Duren Creates Art to Share

by Andrea A. Firth

The centerpiece of artist Laura van Duren's Not for Sale exhibit at the Mercury 20 Gallery in Oakland is an interactive installation called the Truth Scope. "I love the idea of creating art that people can interact with, that they can touch," says van Duren. The five-tier, funnel-like structure, which hangs from the gallery ceiling, is made of welded steel and covered with pages carefully selected from antique books about personal and political conflict. Van Duren was inspired to create the interactive sculpture after hearing a presentation at Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church (MVPC) by the founder of Not for Sale, a campaign devoted to ending human trafficking and slavery.
"The cause resonates with me in a personal way," say van Duren, who grew up with domestic violence and her own experience of fear, threats, and forms of entrapment. She invites exhibit-goers to step inside the scope and help her to complete the sculpture. Chalk is provided for the viewer to share what he or she would like to be freed from by writing on the inside of the scope. Illuminated from the skylight above with birds that van Duren created in molds and resin suspended overhead as if in flight, the relatively small space inside the scope is evocative of the wide-open spaces in nature.
"This is the biggest thing I have ever made," says van Duren, who sculpted in clay for 20 years before venturing into welding. The Truth Scope took 12 hours to install and required a 17-foot long truck to transport it from her home-based studio in Lafayette. Van Duren also created a series of collage boxes for the exhibit that are displayed on the gallery walls. The recurrent use of cages, ladders, birds, and branches in the collages and scope provide the imagery for the themes of freedom, safety, and escape, says the artist.
"I'm constantly seeking what I can use from the environment for my art," says the self-described scavenger of the suburban landfill, who regularly collects branches and other natural materials from her yard to supplement her art supplies. "And I'm a big believer in the concept of reuse," adds van Duren, who often shops for clothes at Lafayette's Wayside Inn Thrift Shop. Van Duren has lived with husband Michael and their three children (ages 22, 20 and 16) in Lafayette for 12 years and likes to share her art with the community, especially with young people. She recently traveled to Peru with a group from the MVPC to help with the construction of a childcare center.
Van Duren shipped boxes of art supplies to the location in advance. When the supplies never arrived, she scoured the remote village for paint. Only able to find white house paint, the resourceful artist mixed the colors herself and was able to complete the mural. "I'm definitely going back," says van Duren, who enjoys social justice work and sees service as part of her role as an artist.
20% of the sales from van Duren's exhibit will be donated to Not for Sale. The exhibit will run at the Mercury 20 Gallery through September 25th, for more information go to

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Opening Reception of September Solo Show

Last Friday was opening night of my solo show at Mercury 20 Gallery. Here is a view of the my installation at night.

Opening night started out with people curiously exploring my 12 feet installation of " Truth Scope". I invited the public to get inside the sculpture and complete it by writing on the inside of the cage all the things they would like to let go of.

Here is a sample of some of the writing on the inside of the Truth Scope. At the end of the evening it was an emotional experience for me to read what others wrote. There is still space left to write, so, come on down to the gallery and step inside.

When you get inside and look up you can see what looks like a couple of orange glass birds that just escaped.

It was a pleasure for me to observe how people responded to the piece. I was delighted to find folks reading the antique book pages I used to make the skin of the scope.

This guy was all smiles when he emerged.

Since I am donating 20% of my sales to the "Not For Sale" campaign, one of their representatives came to the exhibition to do a presentation about human trafficking and how we can fight it. Mercy Dizon did a great job presenting to a large crowd of art lovers.

The children discovered my visual journals. I hope I inspired the next generation of sculptors.

People started lining up to get a turn in the scope!

Savannah Jo Lack added her magical violin music to our evening. Please check out her website: One person told me that being inside the scope and listening to her violin was the perfect blend for a peaceful meditation.

I had the treat of seeing so many friends come out to the show. The best part is getting all the hugs!

Here is a sample of some of the work made out of recycled drawers and a mix of my cast sculptures.

"Safety", 27"x20"x8", Drawer, wood, wheel, collage

"Gro", 25"x18"x7", Drawer, bronze, metal, silver composite, collage, scrabble pieces

"Dante's Cage", 20"x8"x4", Drawer, collage, gold composite

By the end of the evening we turned out the lights and enjoyed the glow.