NAME: Ghost Of A Dream (Lauren Was and Adam Eckstrom)
STUDIO: 92 Plymouth Street, at the corner of Plymouth and Washington streets.
TIME IN BROOKLYN: 12 years
SHARED STUDIO: Yes, we have a studio in the Smack Mellon studio program. There are six artists here, and Skye Gilkerson, Monika Sziladi, and Ghost of a Dream will have our doors open all weekend.
[Editors’ Note: This coming weekend, we’ll be touring Brooklyn for GO open studios, an event in which visitors vote on which artist they feel deserves to get an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. As a service to both ourselves and other readers, we’ve scoured the event’s pages for the most promising studios and then sent those artists an email with a few questions about their work. The following posts relay what they told us.]
Ghost of a Dream came close to landing a spot as a top finalist in last year’s ArtPrize, the art voting contest in Michigan which GO appears to be closely based on. Their popular appeal makes them a likely candidate for making it into the final rounds of GO voting. People like them: they do color and design well, and they turn regular things into fancy things. Those are things most people like, and they’re not too hard to figure out.
Where are you from? What’s your background?
I am from Minnesota [Adam], and Lauren is from Massachusetts. Lauren went to school in Chicago at the Art Institute for photo and sculpture, and then moved back east to go to grad school at RISD, which is where we first met.
Are you showing your work in galleries?
Yes, In New York we work with Davidson Contemporary, and we also show with Cynthia Corbett (London), Christoffer Egelund (Denmark), and Galerie Paris-Beijing. We also work very closely with the Wassaic Project and show work in their yearly exhibition upstate. Upcoming in September we have a show at the Hunterdon Museum in New Jersey, as well as a site-specific installation at the Dumbo Arts Festival.
Why are you participating in GO?
We love to have people in the studio. It is great to get fresh eyes on the work and be able to meet new people.
How did you start working together?
We were working in a loft in Ridgewood in 2007 and our studios were side by side, separated by one short wall. Slowly we began to make work about each other, and then started making collaborative drawings, and then started talking about what larger projects we would like to work on together, given the opportunity. But it wasn’t till Lauren got this great opportunity from RISD to teach a class called Artist Projects that we started making large work together. In this class you get to build a large-scale project with the help of 10 RISD students. With this chance, we made our first project as Ghost of a Dream, a full-size Hummer H3 made from $39,000 worth of discarded lottery tickets. This project began our collaboration and a new body of work.
You write about using discarded materials which represent fantasy: lotto tickets, romance novels, and trophy bases. What happens when they’re woven back together as a opulent-looking artwork?
It is important for us that every material we use has also been used by someone else to escape reality or to fulfill their dreams. To us, the esscense of the person has been left behind, their desire and hope somehow embeded into the object that is also used up and discarded. We collect this stuff, lots of it, and repurpose it into rich and opulent-looking work that reignites the original desire that these objcts once had. Another important aspect of our work is the initial read, and the unfolding of itself that follows; it is crucial that the first read of our work is one of luxury and/or beauty and then as the viewer approaches the work, they realize what the material actually is, revealing the complexities of each piece. We hope that we leave the viewer thinking about the people that scratched the lottery ticket or won the trophy, and whatever reflection that may bring them.
Your work was very popular at The Grand Rapids ArtPrize, which identified a public biased toward works that made labor visible. Do you think that will give you an edge this time around too?
Don’t get us wrong: we would LOOOVE a show at the Brooklyn Museum and have faith that someday it will happen, but we are not holding our breath. ArtPrize and the idea of a public vote is a great theory but it seems like it comes down to a popularity contest that you can only win if you can get enough of your people out to vote for you by badgering them with emails to “pleeasse vote”. We are opening our studio to get new folks out to see our work, discuss it with them, and meet new people. We are not going to badger for votes (but yes, please vote for us if you like the work). If we do get the opportunity to show at the museum from this, we will put our all into it, we will rock it, and we will make sure that decision to choose us is not a regrettable one.