Lauren Wolk is working on her third novel. “The first one was published by Random House and the second one is with my agent,” Wolk says. “The third one is mostly still in my head.” While the author spins her latest yarn, she is also happily busy with her other two passions. The first is her work as associate director at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth. “I was blessed to find this job,” she says. “I’ve become more and more immersed in all the arts.” This immersion has helped Wolk develop as a gifted assemblage artist, her other passion.
Many years ago during a family vacation to Big Sur, Wolk strolled into a gift shop and saw a birdhouse made out of found and natural objects. “It was a thing of beauty, more art than craft,” she recalls. “It was also far more expensive than I could afford.” Wolk grew up in an artistic family—her mother worked for the Maryland Institute of Art—and decided she would try to make her own birdhouse when she got home. She did, and before long was selling her birdhouses in local shops.
“Eventually I thought, ‘why am I sticking with birdhouses?’ so I started letting these found objects tell me what they wanted to be,” Wolk says. Among her creations are a wreath composed of leather covers from aged Charles Dickens novels and scores of angels—the most popular pieces at her annual December show at the Cultural Center—made out of buoys, paper fans, and a variety of charmingly peculiar items.
Wolk’s pieces embody the adage that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. “Junk shops and yard sales are treasure troves of things people no longer want,” she says. For Wolk, it’s all about finding the beauty in these unassuming objects. “You see bottle caps smashed in the street and they’re like little planets lying there waiting to be found,” she says. “You pick them up and put them in a piece of art and they’re beautiful.”
Many of Wolk’s creations have literary themes, which reflect her longstanding love of language. She studied creative writing at Brown University and currently writes poetry in addition to fiction. “While I’m working with my hands I’m usually writing something in my head,” she says. “So there’s a strong connection between literary art and visual art for me.”
The consummate artist, Wolk is also working on photography and multimedia projects. “It’s like I live in a kaleidoscope,” she laughs. All these pursuits would make most people’s head spin, but Wolk draws energy and inspiration from the Cape’s flourishing art scene. As a child, her family spent summers in Chatham and she always knew she wanted to end up here. “The Cape was the epicenter of the world for me,” she says. “It was where all good things happened.”
For more information, visit laurenwolk.com
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