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Lorien Stern's goofy ceramics are full of wild-child imagination

Lorien Stern is a young California-based artist making some pretty damn magical work. Lorien creates ceramics, paintings and apparel in candy colours, imbued with a liveliness that is infectious and addictive. She explores themes of discomfort and fear by tackling them head-on with gusto and her signature goofy style. Ceramics of hyper-colour shark heads, gouache paintings and an apparel line filled with tees covered in screen print transfers of the animal kingdom, pins, patches, cushions and homewares make up her eccentric practice. Oh and we haven’t even mentioned that she makes all of this from a shipping container studio in her remote home of the Mojave Desert. Yes, really.

Lorien lives in the desert in a renovated trailer on a property that her family acquired for some off-site storage and to use as a dumping grounds for the unwanted and disused. The result is a home that is a higgledy-piggledy collection of construction equipment and junk alongside family treasures and heirlooms. She describes it like a kind of crazy messy museum. The desert, with its solitude and bright stars, serves as the perfect blank canvas for Lorien to indulge in her art full-time.

It’s an unorthodox lifestyle but it doesn’t stop Lorien’s wild-child imagination and hands from creating incredibly refreshing and fun art. Imagine a shiver of sharks in colours of the rainbow emerging from gallery walls — it was these pieces which got heads turning in the way of her clay practice. For her most recent gallery project, Stardust, Lorien created a surreal ceramic cemetery at Ochi Projects in Los Angeles. She tapped into her distinctively optimistic and humorous way of confronting heavy themes, and the space was transformed into a fantastical world inhabited by snakes, rainbows, ducks, flowers and rainbow headstones. A cemetery full of positive energy — only Lorien could pull that one off!

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