The Reflective Element of Lauren Pararo’s Collages
Lauren Pararo, or Lo, is a preschool teacher by occupation, who is involved in a plethora of artistic activity, including music, poetry, and visual art, in addition to collaborative artistic services. Her multimedia collage style is kaleidoscopic. “I would say that a lot of my art comes from chaos.” Says Pararo.
Much of the content in Pararo’s collage work comes from recycled material things she develops sentimental value towards, but hasn’t assigned a specific purpose. At times, her students gift her scribbles on paper, and she finds a way to incorporate them into her work and find images from them.
What Pararo finds sentimental varies, depending on aesthetic, context, sometimes color scheme, which she knows a great deal about, graduating Georgia State University for studio art, and minoring in psychology, which is tremendously incorporated into her collage work. Pararo speaks about the significance, saying Art originally was just a cathartic means to heal myself. I am a deep believer in art therapy from a very primal place-- Expression therapy really. Whatever way you can be creative-- to give voice to something in you that you can’t necessarily find words to, or just something that you’re trying to grapple with... expressing it rather than repressing it.”
Pararo deeply feels that art and psychology go hand-in-hand, both from her studies and personal experience. As the youngest,and only girl on both sides of her family, Pararo spent much of her youth sheltered. “I was kind of raised to believe I was very fragile physically, mentally, emotionally. I was too. I was very emotional and sensitive. I would refer to myself as a highly sensitive person, and I think that consequently, as I’ve gotten older, this people pleasing part of myself got me into a lot of trouble with the relationships that I had. I was seeing patterns of codependency with people I’ve dated, and not really knowing how to solve these problems that I felt like had to do with people around me when I realized that I was actually the common denominator in my life-In the algorithm that is my life, and I needed to start looking within. That’s when I think about five years ago I started to journal avidly, and that involved writing, free verse, stream-of-consciousness writing, collaging, anything that just got me to get my emotions out in whatever form that was at the time and through that process I started to unpack all of these psychological patterns that caused me to be in the same toxic relationships, or to attract the same toxic people.” Says Pararo. She has a strong sense of self-awareness that appears in both her art and conversation, that requires an immense amount of being able to see the self objectively.
Being a self-defined sensitive person, Pararo would say that her art is very raw, rarely planning an art piece. “My life is a mess, and it’s more about finding the beauty in that mess and turning something intentional, that, at first, seemed like a curse, a mistake, or a regret.” Pararo admits pensively.
It’s almost unignorable, that many of Pararo’s collages contain a surrealist element in which the more you look at the piece, the more you see. Pararo says that she is very impacted by both her dreams and Carl, Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology, and whose work transcends it’s studies into influencing the arts. Much of his research addressed the subconscious and how dreams reflect the mind. Pararo’s art has that similar dream-like presence, specifically pieces like “Father Earth”, and “Water Mother and Water Sister”.
Pararo came up with the names of these pieces of an eight-part series based off of tarot cards. In each piece, a tarot card is hidden, within. “Water Mother Sister” contains imagery from recycled things she's made, especially recycled figure drawings from an art class she attended at Georgia State. The professor would assign the class three minutes to do the best nude sketch they could, making them move on to the next after three minutes. “It was really good practice, but it was wasting a lot of paper.” says Pararo. “ Really, this process was more of a meditative process of cutting out things. These collages were more about the images that I cut out and the process of cutting them out than they were about the content...I felt like it was calming me down to cut things out and to spend time cutting them out.” Pararo continues.
Pararo also made these collages to assert “the absurdity of life”, as she puts it. She refers to the media most of us are constantly being bombarded with, spewing a multitude of information, motives, and agendas all at once. “You’re being reminded that there are people who are homeless. All the while, on the next page you have images of lipstick, and then all the while, you have pictures of these models that are supposed tobe these examples of what beauty is.” say Pararo. Then, she would look at the images and feel which of the tarot cards encompassed the college best, based on its content.
When asked if her artwork is derived from the dislike to waste things, Pararo agrees, saying that she tends to hoard materials she finds pretty, or resonates with her. She holds on to it, even if she doesn’t know it's origins, then spends time gluing things down, moving them around,and seeing how they interact with each other until they’re to her liking. She used the series of eight as her dissertation from a 5 month process. Each piece taking about ten to fifteen hours.
Pararo doesn't limit herself to collage art. She’s been doing poetry since the fourth grade “Writing has always been with me.” She says. Recently, having done a live performance of her poetry at a venue called The Art Garden. Pararo also paints, which are more planned than her collage work. “For me, also, painting is more of a cathartic process than if I’m painting it’s kind of me trying practice being patient... Painting is when I try to make something for other people, because I know not everyone jives with the collages I make.” She normally makes paintings as gifts.
She confesses that art helped her stray away from being too much of a people pleaser. This trait caused her not to take care of herself, and what she wanted, but what she assumed other people expected from her. “Whether or not it was my parents, or whoever my partner was at the time, my friends even, or people that I worked for, my professors at the time. I was always focusing on how I can be liked, rather than how I can like myself more,and enjoy my time by myself, rather than reaching out to other people to get some sort of gratification.” say pararo.
She also talks about how nurturing Atlanta has been for establishing a collaborative environment. “ A lot of people and artists that I’ve interacted with through Plasma’s events or other events have always wanted to work with me. I think I give off that art is a process, and it’s a collaborative process as well. I think I encourage people through my work because they encourage me. “Says Pararo.
The things Pararo struggles with is very common in our instant gratification culture, especially those who make art in any form. “If I’m stressing out about not having the attention that I want through social media, then usually I just have to look within and question why it is that I’m so obsessed with this artificial, superficial attention. When I feel that I’m not liked then I just start to write about it, or I do some art about it. I just really challenge why it’s even important for me to care about why people like what I do, because I believe in the integrity of my work, and I also understand that not everyone's gonna like it. That’s really hard to accept, but it’s true. Not everyone’s gonna like me. It’s just all these things I have to remind myself because I’m not a perfect human being, and to think that my art is going to be enjoyed by everybody is kind of foolish. I investigate what it is that’s making me want to get this attention, and then I just shake it off, or write a poem about it, honestly. I address, and then it’s done.”
Pararo is an advocate for social media, but she recommends everyone believe in themselves before the hype, or lack thereof, from social media. “ It’s hard when you feel like you’re floating around, and you’re not getting anywhere. Nobody really hears you when you feel misunderstood, but if you just keep working through it and processing it in the way that you know how, which is either music, writing, or art, then something will come of it. It will make sense. You just have to keep working towards it." Says Pararo.
Pararo also strongly advises against having expectations, describing them as poisonous in our minds, acknowledging that it’s hard to be patient with ourselves in a time where we can google everything. “Ultimately, if you have an art form of some sort to put all this energy in, then put it all in there and something will form. Rather than ruining relationships because your imagination is too creative and it’s running wild and all of the sudden you’ve formed a narrative about the person cheating on you, or whatever. Whatever it is, it comes from really small things. I think doing what you do, and how you feel, and finding a channel to do that, and giving it everything that you have. I know that’s a really corny thing, “Give it all ya got”. But just do it. Seriously, because that is where I’ve found the most satisfaction...That’s what I would recommend.” Pararo concludes.