Playing Favorites: Lauren Wolfer & Karl Zerbe

We’ve asked FWMoA staff the hardest question you can ask art museum people: so, what is your favorite artwork currently on display? As “art museum people”, we often get asked about our favorite artists, artworks, and the art we choose to hang on our own walls. Since not all of our staff are front-end, and not all of them write for the blog, this series gives everyone a chance to get to know them, too. Taking advantage of our rotating exhibitions of artworks, from painted portraits to sculpted bronzes, FWMoA staff from all departments are choosing artworks that enthrall and enchant them; or, in other words, playing favorites.

Lauren Wolfer, Associate Curator of Special Collections & Archives. Photo courtesy of FWMoA.

Lauren Wolfer, Associate Curator of Special Collections & Archives, has made the art museum her place of work for 7 years (as of this July!). Her current favorite? A mixed media work by Karl Zerbe, Girl with Blue Mask, now on view in Bold Assemblage (an exhibition she curated!).

Karl Zerbe, American born Germany, 1903-1972. Girl with Blue Mask. Acrylic with collage, plastic, metal found objects with lace and paper collage on paper, 1966. Gift of Estelle and Martin Karlin, 2011.15. Photo courtesy of FWMoA.

Q: What is the first thing you noticed about this artwork? What drew you to this particular piece?

A: First thing I notice is the bright, exciting colors; it’s very fun and playful! Once you have the time to stare at it, you start to see all the quirky things added into it, along with the strange faces. There’s a compass, rulers, collaged magazine clippings… and spray painted doilies? What’s not to love!?

Q: Would you hang this artwork in your home? Why or why not?

A: Yes! It brings a smile to my face. I graduated from IU [Indiana University, Bloomington] with a BFA in Printmaking, and even though it is not a “print” it has that feel to it.

Q: What does this artwork mean to you?

A: Girl with Blue Mask was the work that got me excited to investigate what other mixed media pieces we have in the Permanent Collection; and, ultimately, put the exhibit together. I matted this work a couple years ago, so I think this is the first time it has been exhibited!

Q: Why did you choose to work in an art museum?

A: I’ve always loved visiting art museums! They are the first thing I seek out when visiting another city, even before I started working at one. I’ve always loved drawing, and I found printmaking in college. When I graduated, I didn’t know where to go. I had shadowed an accountant in high school and knew the office setting was not for me (sorry, dad). I started out by volunteering at FWMoA as a docent, became an intern, then started showing up when I heard more help was needed, ranging from helping with events to installing exhibits. I’ve had a few different titles working at FWMoA, with every job helping me to become a more well-rounded museum professional!

Q: What has been your favorite exhibition at FWMoA during your employment? What exhibition are you most looking forward to in the next year or two?

A: Ohhhhh boy this is hard! Last year, I curated an exhibit of Heather Day’s paintings and Michelle Andonian’s photographs, and they are both special for very different reasons. Heather was one of the first major solo shows I curated outside of the FWMoA collection. It was a lot of fun working with an artist my age who makes art that I love. The paintings felt so freeing and vibrant that I could stare at them forever. With Michelle’s exhibit, it hit on a deeper level, covering the Armenian genocide in such a poetic way. I remember going to her studio to look at the images of her trip; and then to see them printed large scale, it was stunning. I’m so grateful for the Manoogian Museum for loaning artifacts to us because they tied the history to current life in Armenia. It was a real bummer that both of these exhibits were cut short because of the pandemic.

Q: What kid of art (if any) do you have in your home?

A: Too much! In college we did print exchanges regularly, so I have several prints from fellow students. On top of prints being a favorite of mine, they are (more) affordable. I have recently started branching out and collecting paintings and sculptural works, my most recent by Marcello Pope (Rosie Lee)! In general, I buy what I love, which is a very eclectic mix. Some things I like for historic reasons, some because they make me happy. To get a peek at Lauren’s collection, check out a blog post she wrote last year about her collection of artwork that celebrates her cats: Treasures from Home.

Come visit FWMoA to see Lauren Wolfer’s favorite artwork, Girl with Blue Mask, on view through May 30th, 2021.

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