We had the good fortune of connecting with Lexie Lund and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lexie, how do you think about risk?
Ah, risk. Risk taking is one of my favorite things to do, and also one of my least favorite things to do. As far as my artistic content and creation methods, I will take risks all day, and thoroughly enjoy the process! If it comes to needing to investigate a new material or a new mode of construction, I am all about it, fearless to go to the hardware store and give the employee the third degree about the finish or behavior of a new material, overjoyed to surf the web to find the perfect material that will give this new creation the justice that it deserves! If this artistic idea is in fact risky in the way that there’s a possibility it’s going to ruffle some feathers, as long as they’re the right feathers that I want to ruffle on my audience, I’m gonna take that risk all day, no question. I want to make my viewers think, or help them possibly view something in a different way than they usually would. Risk taking has impacted my artistic career in such an amazing way- I truly believe that the risky content and imagery that I use within my artwork has ensured that my work always gets that second glance. Glittery pastel weapons hanging on the wall, porcelain and gold luster tampon sculptures, is that an eggplant emoji on a cute little porcelain saucer? Is that a larger-than-life papier-mache pink handgun suspended in mid-air?! Viewers usually take a second look, and that second look is where I intend for the feminist or political messages to begin to resinate with my audience. However, on the flip-side, daily life, you know, all of the boring stuff like making sure the bills are paid, the necessities and the things we have to do as functioning members of society, I am depressingly responsible. Let’s think about the world that we wake up in today. Many emerging artists in today’s society, especially from my generation, that have recently graduated art school, so excited and awe-struck by the opportunities within Denver’s vibrant art scene, were all just backhanded by the reality of stepping out during such a critical portion of their career, into a pandemic, a suffering economy, and an extremely difficult time in history to live through. At this point in my career, as much as it breaks my heart, I have to put my first level of needs and survival, before my art right now. Unfortunately I have to acknowledge my financial responsibilities and prioritize them before my artistic career. I also live with the notion that the risk that I’m avoiding can definitely hold my artistic career and development back, but I’m holding on tightly to the hope of things going back to “normal” and be able to take more risks that will benefit my career as an emerging artist in the near future.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
“My process as an artist examines ways in which pop-culture and politics have morphed worlds. This concept has created tension in my life and the lives of many women (and men) around me. In combination with technology and media, pop-culture and politics are inescapable. In my work, I filter these issues through a feminist, counterculture lens. Utilizing a combination of typography, materiality, imagery, color, history, and fictional narrative, I challenge institutionalized sexism and American nationalism. I aim to create work that is deeply rooted in its meaning and purpose. Hand picked words embellish my work to further motifs of feminism, politics, pop-culture, counter-culture, social-survey, and fictional narratives.” Boom, that’s a mouthful right? Let’s break it down a little bit. Basically, I’m an interdisciplinary artist, which means I use many different types of media to create artwork. When I have an idea for a piece, I let the content of the idea dictate the medium I’m using. How am I trying to make my audience feel? What is the point I’m trying to make? Will it be best said with sculpture, a painting, a zine? Does it need audio? Is this idea best portrayed as an immersive experience? As a video? A piece of writing? Is this a collaboration, if so, what is my collaborator extremely talented at creating? What do they think? Usually, I’ll decide on a combination of mediums, but no matter what, my pieces always utilize hyper-femininity to grab my viewers attention, or make the piece more palatable. I often use glitter and pastel color schemes, humor, and nostalgic pop-culture references to draw my viewers in. Almost all of my work has a fun and cute demeanor, but is rooted in strong, unapologetic feminist or political meaning. Growing up, I was a weird kind, but I was like, cool weird, ya know? My parents were divorced, and my mother was an amazing role model for me, working full time and raising two children. My older brother listened to pop-punk and alternative rock music, and my mom let me dye my hair bright red when I was in 6th grade- she always supported me in expressing myself. As I grew, I became so extremely obsessed with music, my dad took me to my first Warped Tour when I was in 5th grade, and the experience of the alternative counter-culture intrigued me. I went to a lot of concerts, I loved checking my Myspace, and the whole “emo/scene” culture quickly became my life, but then, I had no idea how much it truly would impact my work. Through high school, I was a really good student, was in choir and musical theater, I was even in a rock band for a little while. I really did love my art classes, but I always put music first. When I graduated high school in 2014, I was accepted into The University of Colorado at Boulder, thinking I was going to study music, but I quickly put two and two together realizing that I loved music because of the freedom of expression it gave me, and like what… CU has the 5th best ranked ceramics department in the nation?! That sounded way more fun, so I changed my major and devoted my life to art. Who really knows what they’re doing as an eighteen year-old anyways? Well, I love my eighteen year-old self for making that decision. Near the end of my junior year of college, I had a pretty intense breakup, and shortly after, I lost two of my grandparents to cancer. I wasn’t in a good place mentally, and that’s when I discovered the Riot Grrrl movement. The Riot Grrrl movement is a part of third wave feminism, combining punk music, feminism, and politics, and I finally felt like I was found. This movement was everything that I cared about, and learning about the history of Riot Grrrl made me realize I wasn’t alone in the way I was feeling and the things I was interested in. That’s when, in my opinion, I finally started making art that was worth making, I was finally empowered to combine my love for music and art with my beliefs in feminism, and my political views. Pour some glitter on that subject matter, and my art was born. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun, it was super fun, but oh my gosh- getting my BFA at CU Boulder was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. It didn’t have to be as hard as I made it, but I wanted all of the knowledge I could possibly get, knowing that even after all of my scholarships, and working multiple jobs while in school, I would still be paying for this degree for a very long time. I also understood how important it was that I made connections with those in my community, this was important for the development of my career, yes, but it was also really important for my mental health. I didn’t have a choice, I needed to be successful. I said yes to every opportunity I was given. My studio mates and I consumed more caffeine than I want to admit, and sleep was low on my priority list. I learned the art of mold-making and slip-casting, glazing, firing kilns, using decals, the whole ball of wax, and I loved it. I learned about art history, photoshop, the power of installation, color, form, typography. I learned a lot, and I loved learning. For my thesis piece, I created Grrrls to the Frontline, a multimedia piece, containing relics from a fictional narrative, set in the future, that bent time but was inspired by the political polarity that began in our country in 2016. This piece was about three women who led a feminist revolution agains a corrupt government. Grrrls to the Frontline was chosen for the 2018 King Award by curator Zoe Larkins of the Museum of Contemporary Art. My heart, y’all, it dropped. Receiving the King Award assured me that I was on the right path in my life, and my art was being seen. I was accepted into the ceramics area post-baccalaureate program at CU for the following semester after graduation, so I could continue working in the studio, and building my portfolio. The scholarship money from the King Award is what made the post-baccalaureate program possible for me, and I am beyond grateful. After graduating, I was accepted into the Museum of Outdoor Arts’ summer internship program for emerging artists, Design and Build. Design and Build changed my life. Not only did I love working with the museum staff, I got to collaborate with a group of 9 other interns, and collaborate and build Denver’s immersive art’s experience, Natura Obscura. Building Natura Obscura was an amazing experience, and a huge learning opportunity. Not only did I learn how to work with so many types of mediums, but I really learned how powerful collaboration can be. When the Design and Build program ended, I didn’t want to stop collaborating, I wanted to make more immersive work with the amazing artists and friends that I made that summer, so four of us interns banded together and formed the feminist art collective now know as Pussayhaus, or PH Balance. The following fall and spring, I attended the post-bacc program and CU and had such a blast having more freedom and time to create immersive work and sculptural work. Jeannie Quinn, one of my favorite artists and teachers (and one of my favorite people on the face of this earth) asked me to be her teaching assistant for her Beginning Wheel-Throwing Class in the spring, an opportunity I could never pass up. I learned a lot about the challenges of organizing and teaching a college level course, and got tons of hands on experience teaching, and loading and firing kilns. Tired, I was very tired, TA-ing, working in the studio, and picking up as many shifts as I could at my serving job. But hey, that’s how I did it- I always said yes. I was always browsing for shows to apply to, and art-related jobs. I faced a lot of rejection, but I continued on. One day I got a phone call from Sadie Young at Spectra Art Space, someone had dropped out of their Colorado Vibes: Volume 3 Showcase last minute (I had applied the beforehand, but all of the artists were already selected by the time my application was processed) and she wanted me to take their place. I remember that Sadie said she loved my work and seemed really excited to potentially have me in her show. Her enthusiasm meant so much to me, and knowing that the owner of a female owned and operated gallery wanted my work on the walls was huge to me, so I of course, I said yes, and that was my first gallery show. My work was voted “Best in Show, Jurors Choice,” and this was all of the encouragement that I needed to continue pursuing my artistic career. I went on to work with Spectra Art Space helping to install shows, and was invited to work on their creative team for an installation at The Underground Music Showcase. Growing extremely close with the Spectra team, I eventually began to work at the gallery once a week. Soon after, Pussayhaus became artists of Boxcar Gallery, securing a studio space at their location in the Santa Fe Arts District. We began making many different types of work at our studio and showing on First Friday Art Walks. Spectra Art Space invited myself personally, and Pussayhaus as a collective to help build their narrative-based immersive arts experience, Spookadelia. Beyond stoked to have had the opportunity to help with the creation of this immersive, myself and Pussayhaus went on to assist with the build for Spookadelia 2, Sugar Plum Scary’s Revenge. Eventually, my art career began to feel like something real and success seemed plausible. Shows started happening, my work was being seen, and I was busy. Like, really busy. I commuted, a lot. Living and nannying in Boulder, having a studio in the Santa Fe Arts District, working at Spectra Art Space on South Broadway, serving tables in Broomfield, and having a partner that lives in Westminster was a challenge at times. I’d crash at my moms house in Lakewood often, and it really felt like I was living out of my car. I eventually moved from Boulder to help the commute and my financial situation. It was a lot, but it was worth every second, and even though I was exhausted, I didn’t want to stop. Soon enough, I’m sure y’all can guess what happened next. The “C” word. The Vid. Rona. Covid-19 happened. Boxcar Gallery had to shut down due to the financial implications of the stay-at-home order, and Spectra Arts Space moved to online programming. My life changed, I no longer had a studio, and the collaboration of art shows was halted for months. Less collaboration and less creative opportunity really made it a tough year, but things are finally looking up. Life is never going to be easypeasy, but this past year has reminded me how important it is to stay hopeful, flexible, and to make it work. There’s always going to be excuses, and there’s always going to be obstacles, but at the end of the day, you’re the only one that’s going to hold yourself accountable, so if you really want it, you’re going to make it happen. I’ve also learned that burnout is very real, and setting a sustainable pace for your life is really important for the longevity of your goals. I needed a break, and it seems like the universe shoved one in my face, so the next time I feel like I need a little break, I’m going to give myself one, and I’m not going to feel guilty about it. Now, I’ve set aside a studio space in my home, and I’ve really been enjoying working through some ideas, and making smaller scale works. I also am beyond excited to launch my new nostalgic-themed jewelry line coming mid-summer 2021, and I can’t even express how happy I am to start working with Pussayhaus again. Cheers to what is to come!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Alright, if my best friend was visiting town, I’d make sure to show them the best time ever! My dream Denver-itinerary would definitely include City O’ City for a super yummy, veggie-friendly meal. The Dikeou Collection is always necessary for some fun art viewing. Karma Asian on Broadway is also a must, and we’d have to hit all of the cute vintage clothing and antique stores while on Broadway. Next, we have to visit my favorite ladies at Spectra Art Space to see what artists they’re showing and what magical immersive they’ve got going on. Lions Lair and Forest Room 5 for a nightcap. Downtown Golden is a must, after we have breakfast burritos at Los Marcelos and dip our toes into Clear Creek, we have to drive up Lookout Mountain, and grab a shimmery sour at Golden City Brewery. Seeing a show at Red Rocks is mandatory. It’s friday night, so of course we have to go to the Santa Fe Art District’s Art Walk, and we can’t forget to stop by Joe Palec’s studio, and visit Grace Noel at the Denver Arts Society. I almost forgot, tomorrow we have to have dinner at The Sink in Boulder, and definitely stop by the Sundown Saloon and License No. 1 for a night out. We’ll sober up for the lyft ride home with a slice of pizza from Cosmo’s, extra spicy ranch, please!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The Museum of Outdoor Arts and Spectra Art Space will forever hold special places in my heart! MOA and Spectra have both brought me on amazing jobs with them and gave me access to huge opportunities in the immersive and fine arts communities. The Art and Art History Department at The University of Colorado, Boulder, also shaped me as an artist in so many ways, a huge thank you to my faculty and staff supporters, and my fabulously talented studio mates. I owe so much to my three art collective besties, PussayHaus, for creating with me and ensuring my continual growth. My amazing mother, family, and friends also deserve a shout out for supporting me constantly, and showing me love through all of the uncertainty in my career. And, I can’t forget The Riot Grrrl Movement- snaps to Kathleen Hanna for awakening the punk rock feminist within me.