Lauren Marie Nitka is a Milwaukee Metro based fine artist, working out of her studio in the Historic Third Ward and in her hometown of Greendale, Wisconsin. She attended Wisconsin Lutheran College, and received her Bachelor’s Degree in both Art Education and Elementary Education. Highlighted coursework that has been a primary inspiration for current works includes Urban Sketchbook: Psychogeography, Interior Architectural Rendering, Western Art History ancient to modern, and Asian Art and Architecture History with an emphasis on Chinese art. As an art educator herself, Lauren believes art is not an isolated discipline but a collective conscious that is built on culture and therefore values an intense study of Art History along with Studio Art in her classroom.
In my work, I seek to explore the psycho-geography of the metropolitan area that I live in through painting (acrylic & oil) and drawings (primarily in inks) of cityscapes. Psycho-geography is about the relationship between our environment (including architecture, street flow, limitations) and our response to it, such as emotion or culture. Through this lens, I want to further understand how a person is a product of their environment, which I dictate in my piece “Cityscape Portrait” (ink & oil pastel). The buildings are both behind the face and also coming out of the shadows, shaping the person’s past memories and current identity. This piece led the way for further exploration, as a manifesto of sorts.
In the past I’ve reimagined elements of Milwaukee County with a surrealist point of view, emphasizing my emotional response through image layering and color changes. My goal was to map out my memories of the visual and imagined environment, but memories, like dreams, do not always follow reality. Memories have layers and short cuts, such as seen in my piece “Do Not Enter,” (ink) a memory of the Wauwatosa village under construction, or “Expanding” (acrylic & oil) where I connect my home, Greendale, to Downtown Milwaukee in the background.
Currently, I am working on a collection inspired by my hometown, Greendale (all works are in inks). I’m drawing inspiration from Greendale’s history, being a planned community. The work itself looks like frontal architectural drawings, as if I were the urban engineer planning my town. The main piece, titled “Greendale, WI” is on vellum paper, which is often used in architectural renderings. The supporting pieces are on postcard size paper, as if to be advertisements to others about the upcoming planned community. The response from others from Greendale has been a sense of nostalgia. My work is now evoking a powerful psychological response, such as nostalgia, from others based on familiar geography to them. This work then becomes focused not only on my own experiences, but on that of a community.