16:08 PM

Ceramic artist is making an impression for the environment

Two short films documenting her creative process now screening at MIA

South Florida-born and raised artist and master ceramicist Lauren Shapiro has been making an impression since graduating with a master's degree in fine arts from the University of Miami.

Often collaborating with ecologists and architects to research, develop and build her work, she has merged ceramics and technology to create sculptural installations with the goal of cultivating a broader awareness of the environment. By incorporating hand-formed clay tiles and digitally fabricated molds as friezes and systems of classical architecture, her work reimagines contemporary buildings overtaken by flora and marine life.

After exhibiting her work in galleries and residences around the world, Shapiro is now leaving her unique imprint on travelers who visit the Miami International Airport Moving Images (MIAmi) Gallery at gate J7, where two short documentary films about her creative process are being screened.

Produced by Lightpalace and on view at MIA through September, the two short films document the development of two collaborative and participatory projects by Shapiro: Future Pacific and Garden Portals. Lightpalace is led by marine scientist, award-winning filmmaker, and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Shireen Rahimi.

For the two projects, the artist invited the public to participate during open community sessions by affixing clay replicas of plants and corals onto large-scale structures in an installation and a ceramic mural. During these activations, participants become confronted with understanding their role in the deterioration of these environments. Through the interactive experience, Shapiro hopes to foster a dialog about solutions for living in harmony with our natural world.

Future Pacific (2020), which aims to cultivate environmental stewardship in the local community and provide a platform for researchers who work to preserve and protect endangered marine ecosystems, was supported by a National Science Foundation grant to Dr. Nyssa Silbiger, California State University Northridge, Silbiger Labs, and Bakehouse Art Complex.

Garden Portals (2021), a ceramic sculpture created to reflect on South Florida’s native ecology and to cultivate environmental stewardship through community-driven workshops that help bring the project to life, was supported by a Knight Arts Challenge Award presented to the artist, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, and with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, and the Board of County Commissioners.

Shapiro lives and works in Miami, Florida, and is currently an artist-in-residence for a National Science Foundation grant awarded to marine ecologists at California State University, Northridge. She received a Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics from the University of Miami (2016) and a BFA from Florida Atlantic University (2009). Shapiro received awards from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (2019), Knight Foundation (2020), Awesome Foundation (2020), Oolite Arts (2021), and the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs’ Art in Public Places Program.