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2017-2018 Fulbright Study/Research Alternate

Lauren Ford

Name: Lauren Moya Ford
Country: Portugal

UH Affiliation: 2014 MFA Alumna

Summary of Research: I will create a new series of paintings, ceramics, artist's books, writing, and photographs inspired by the life and art of Hein Semke (1899-1995), an influential but underrepresented 20th century artist who lived in Portugal. I will study Semke's archive at Gulbenkian Museum and interview his former wives as I navigate Lisbon's contemporary art scene. My multimedia artistic study is informed by Semke's own diverse practice and Portugal as a creative context.

Biographical Information: Lauren was born in the U.S., but currently resides in Madrid, Spain. She has received several recognitions for her work, including the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Art and the Frank Freed Travel Grant. She has participated in performances and exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Hirsch Library, The Menil Collection, Rice University, and Temple University.

Why did you apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program?

Last year on a solo trip to Lisbon I discovered and fell in love with an artist who I'd never heard of: Hein Semke (1899-1995). I saw his work at the Centro de Arte Moderno and at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo and was blown away. Semke was an artist who escaped war-torn Germany and spent the rest of his life in Lisbon making an innovative, prolific body of work across a variety of media. His art inspired and surprised me; it really spoke to me in a way I'd never experienced before. When I started to research Semke, I discovered what felt like another universe. I visited his archive at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and was moved by his letters, drawings, and photo albums of his life. Suddenly I was in his former home having a visit with his wife surrounded by his art and his things, which was an unexpectedly emotional moment for me. I applied for a Fulbright because it seemed like the perfect way to go deeper into this beautiful new world I had seen, which felt like fate had put in my path for a strong reason. The award would have given me the ability to dedicate myself full time to researching Semke and developing my own art practice inspired by his work. It would have been the first time in my life I'd be able to pursue my passion so completely, without having to find other ways to get by.

What was the most challenging aspect of the Fulbright application process?

The most difficult thing for me was narrowing down what I proposed to do in a way that was specific, targeted, and strategic for a committee. The way that I work is multidisciplinary, nonlinear, and intuitive so it is often difficult for me to encapsulate my process and products into a succinct, single project. But after many drafts and lots of help from Jennifer Asmussen and Richard Armstrong, I eventually got there.

What is one interesting thing you learned about yourself when developing your application essays and materials?

I learned that I have hope and dedication. The Fulbright application process is intense. It involves many moving parts and the odds can be pretty daunting, so you have to be fully committed to your idea. I also learned that I need others to help you get it to its best form. I was lucky to have the help of a team of great people helping me every step of the way. I am so thankful for their support.

More Information on Lauren and her Art:

Lauren's Website

Vigo Expo - Lauren's blog on Spanish and Portuguese contemporary art

The Menil Collection Performance

Local Exhibit's where you can see more of Lauren's work:

Jonathan Hopson Gallery (Open June 18, 2017 - July 30, 2017)

Front Gallery (Opens September 9, 2017)

About the Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers graduating seniors, current graduate students, and recent alumni the opportunity to conduct research, complete a one-year graduate degree program, or teach English in more than 140 countries around the world. Interested students should review the University of Houston Fulbright U.S. Student Program website for an overview of the application process and timeline.

Find out more about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program>>