RISD Grads Make Art From Discarded Lottery Tickets

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


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Adam Eckstrom and Lauren Was met at RISD while getting their MFAs (Lauren '04 in sculpture, Adam '05 in painting), and became friends. While living in Brooklyn in 2006, the artists became a couple, and were married in 2007. Once they moved in together, they began to collaborate artistically, and found inspiration in the random, discarded lottery tickets they'd collect on walks with their dog. The result - sculptural installations created from thousands of discarded lottery tickets - are staggeringly colorful, meaningful, and bittersweet. GoLocalProv caught up with Eckstrom and Was at a residency at the Wassaic Project Summer Festival in Wassaic, NY.

How did your first lottery ticket piece come into being?

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We were really drawn to the beauty of each and every object that we found, as well as to the inherent history of each piece of paper and what these relics symbolized. While collecting these discarded moments of hope we where both discussing what we could do with them, and researching what people buy when they do win, as well as what people hope for when they play. From these discussions and that research we came up with a few ideas, but they where all large projects that would take a real investment.

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Lauren was an adjunct teacher at RISD at the time, commuting back and forth from our home in Brooklyn. In the Fall of 2007, RISD offered Lauren the winter session class, Artist's Projects. Artist's projects is a class in which RISD invited an artist to come and make a large project with the assistance of the students that sign up for the class, as well as a production budget for the materials. In return the artist then teaches the students there various methods of working, and shares their knowledge of the art world.

When Lauren was offered the class, she asked if Adam would like to join her, and they could realize their first large project together, the Dream Car (pictured above). We haven't stopped working together and making big projects since.

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So RISD and Providence had a lot to do with both your lives and careers.

We met there, and if it weren't for that offer, we may not be working together today. We still visit often. Lauren still teaches a class now and then, but this year we have spent a good deal of the time out of the country. But we would love it if we could land there. Some of our best friends are there.

Your works astonish in their detail. Can you estimate the amount of time required to bring one of these works to completion?

The Car took two months, six weeks with 10 RISD student assistants. The Dream Home took us six months, which we built during a residency in Basel Switzerland. So each one takes a good amount of time, and usually during the duration of making a piece we are in the studio at least 70 hours a week.

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What's on your docket coming up?

We are currently in Wassaic doing a residency with our friends at the Wassaic Projects. We love it here. It just so happens that two of the four directors here are RISD alum as well.  On September 1st we are going to Beijing, China to create a show start to finish which will open at the Paris Beijing Gallerie on October 9th. Then we will return to the States.

Following that we will be doing a project in Bologna Italy for Art First Bologna. It will be a site-specific installation in one of Italy's most beautiful sites, the Oratorio in Santa Maria Della Vita.  We are also in serious discussion with the Nicolas Robinson Gallery about having our first solo gallery show in the spring, and we have a solo show in the fall of 2011 at Gallerie Christoffer Egelund in Copenhagen Denmark.

For more about Ghost of a Dream, the collaborative projects of Adam Eckstrom and Lauren Was, go here.

Photo of Eckstrom & Was: Jeff Barnett-Winsby

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