Lauren Duke

Artist Biography:

Lauren Duke is a multi-media artist who was exposed to the dichotomy of both the natural and industrial cityscapes of Connecticut. Her work often expresses both the literal, abstract and unknown, in attempts to make sense out of the chaos, harmony and duality of nature. Channeling her artistic, learned intellectual and emotional knowledge, she explores it through forming artistic interpretations into visual information. Lauren is fascinated by topics such as art, art history and the psychology of cultures, the unconscious, interdependent cultural phenomena, nature, and spirituality, as well as her ancestral European and American heritage. This fusion of multi-faceted media and interests is what is forms Duke’s unique vision, which is usually not rooted in just one medium as a result of her many artistic influences. The breadth of her work ranges from fine art to digital, new media and performance art.

Title: “Harmony In the Meaning of Willimantic”

Art Proposal:

We must listen and stay in tune with our spirit guides and also strive as the population of Humankind grows to stay in touch, in awe, and in harmony by respecting the earth’s spirit. We, as a human race must constantly strive for harmony and balance with Mother Nature.

I propose to create Harmony which is an interactive musical sculpture and public artwork to be displayed outside on Main Street in downtown Willimantic, Connecticut. I suggest that the sculpture is to displayed outside of the Bench Shop downtown Willimantic or in Willimantic Records.

This artistic musical display is inspired by Willimantic’s history, legends, and by the original Native American name for this region, which was later adopted by settlers who called the town Willimantic.(1) “Willimantic” is popularly translated as “swift water” in the Pequot language, however this translation is not fully accurate.(1) Because the loss of Native American languages is so great, there are no fully accurate translations of the original pronunciation/meaning for Willimantic and sadly, there are no longer any fluent speakers living to teach us its original meaning they once had for this region.(1)

Music and art are two expressive forms that have the ability to transcend any language barrier. Music can be found in the sounds of the babbling brook, the sounds and smells of the wind rustling through the trees from one end of the world to another.

This art piece will visually and musically represent Nature’s various elements and definitions that original Native American name and meaning of “Willimantic,” including “swift water,” “lookout by the loud water,” “place by the evergreen swamp” and “place by the cedar swamp” in addition to earth’s elements: fire, water, air, earth/wood and ground.(1)

This musical sculpture is to be played as a group, as to form the tribal sounds that reflect our deep connection to nature and our surroundings. The sculpture will visually represent the spirit and essence of the original Native American meaning of “Willimantic” through sculpted, air brushed, hand painted, and physically constructed designs that will represent scenes of the Willimantic river and Windham County region that I have personally experienced over the past five years being a resident who hikes and photographs the local surroundings, as well an artist whose experiences has formed this vision of the colorful spirit of the people who lived here then, and today.

Friends and family, up to 3 to 5 people at once can gather around this musical sculpture and recreate the tribal sounds and feelings of the “loud water” through rhythmic tapping and strumming of Native American maracas, wood chimes, metal drums and shell shakers.

(1) Jamie H. Eves and Katherine L. S. Eves. “Swift Waters or Cedar Swamp?: Native American Placenames in Connecticut and the Meaning of “Willimantic,” Windham Textile and History Museum Mill Museum, Accessed Oct. 2016, http://www.millmuseum.org/history/swift-waters-the-industrial-environment/swift-waters-or-cedar-swamp/

Website: www.laurendukestudio.com