Lex Brown

In the process of dismantling my own internalized racism and sexism, I build new characters, expansive fictional worlds, and unexpected linguistic relationships. I work in performance, music, video, costume design, sculpture, drawing, poetry, and narrative. Fluctuating between humor and seriousness, the work opens up a space for personal connection and examination, often drawing on family history and current, and historical events.

Much of my work happens within the realm of science fiction, using the future as not only a time but also a performative space where multiple modes of communication can take place – through slapstick comedy, monologue, song, and video. Following the publishing of my first book, My Wet Hot Drone Summer, a sci-fi erotic novella, I began to architect worlds and characters such as Focacciatown, a military base/fast-casual bakery franchise; Mananda, a maniacal homes shopping host; and the Alexas, pioneering AI beings. In my work, these characters and worlds overlap in space and time, closely tied to corporate schemes and capitalist structures. In the future, there is the possibility for criticism as well as optimism and possibility.

Music is the core of my work in performance, allowing for a flexible form in which I can directly reach an audience, whether it is in a gallery, museum, music venue, or black box theater. My songs are original with complex lyrics, written to be read as much as they are listened to. I jump in and out of biographical monologue and character sketch, an approach that is heavily informed by my four years of clown study. Clown is an approach to performance that prioritizes honesty, risk, connection with the audience, and being one’s undiminished self; I combine this technique with written narrative and raw physicality to construct fast-moving long-form performances.

My background in painting strongly informs my work in video and performance, and costume making where color and composition play an important role. For example, the orange costume in Sylvester Ford and the orange hats in Run Bambi are all part of a hunting motif (echoed again in All Dogs Matter). Hunting has become a central theme in my work, also present in the Daffy Duck drawings in Immortal Duck. Through it, I explore nature and humanity; camouflage; what it means to be a predator vs. prey.

In drawings and sculptures, physical objects are rendered cartoonishly to reflect the elastic truth of what we call reality. Text is treated as a physical material, heightening the process of understanding language as a lived experience. I believe that language and emotion determine our world just as much as physical phenomena. If we refine our relationship to words, we can redefine our realities.

 

Education

2017 Yale University, New Haven, CT M.F.A. in Sculpture

2012 Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
A.B. in Art and Archaeology, Program in Visual Arts, s umma cum laude
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Madison, ME

 

Select Exhibitions & Performances

2018 TROLLKREM IMPORT, Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway
C.E. , The New Museum, New York, NY
A Wandering Camera-Body, East End Film Festival, London, UK NUT II book launch, A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY SoulRecordings,L uisDeJesusGallery,LosAngeles,CA

2017 Video Narcissism , The High Line, New York, NY
Immortal Duck , Deli Gallery, New York, NY (Solo Exhibition)
Broad Stripes and Bright Stars, Ely Center of Contemporary Art, New Haven, CT
Yale Sculpture 2017 , Green Gallery, New Haven, CT

2016 Public Private Secret, I nternational Center of Photography, New York, NY
Monkeytown 7, Los Angeles, CA
Lost Wax , As It Stands, Pasadena, CA
Satellite Series Festival, Yale Cabaret, New Haven, CT
Speak Out! , Bronx Art Space, New York, NY

2015 Women in Sound , VIA Music Festival, Pittsburgh, PA
Mimeo Revolution, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH
Making Do, Antenna Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Live Action , MINT Gallery, Atlanta, CA
HA! HA! Business!, Luis de Jesus, Los Angeles, CA
American Survey Pt. 2 , Papillion, Los Angeles, CA
On Discipline, LA , 356 Mission, Los Angeles, CA
Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles Launch, Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA
Quality Television (screening), The New Museum, New York NY
Hammer Student Association Poetry Night , Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA
American Survey Pt. 1 , Papillion, Los Angeles, CA
REDCAT Studio, Roy and Edna Disney/Calarts Theater, Los Angeles, CA
Humor and the Abject (screening), Bruce High Quality Foundation, New York, NY

2014 Skowhegan Performs , Socrates Sculpture Park, New York, NY
At Land, Wilding Cran Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2013 How Many Feminists Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb? Antena Gallery, Chicago, IL

 

Prizes and Awards

2017 Susan H. Whedon Award in Sculpture, Yale University, New Haven, CT

2012 The Lucas Award in Visual Arts, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

2011 Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship, Yale University, Norfolk, CT
Lawrence P. Wolfen ’87 Senior Thesis Award, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

2010 James Seawright Award in Visual Arts, Princeton University. Princeton, NJ

Residencies and Fellowships

2019 Recess Sessions, New York, NY
2018 The Macedonia Institute, Chatham, NY
2016 Sommerakademie, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland
2011 Yale-Norfolk School of Art, Norfolk, CT
2010 Chautauqua Institution School of Visual Art, Chautauqua, NY

 

Select Publications

2018 “Time Will Come Back to Me,” Cover & Artist Spread, X -TRA Art Magazine, Los Angeles, CA 2017 “Lip Gloss Alurt,” LA Review of Books, Los Angeles, CA

“Silkscreen Memory,” AQNB
2015 My Wet Hot Drone Summer (Novel), Published Badlands Unlimited, New York, NY

“Monument Time,” G ramsci Monument Catalogue , Dia Art Foundation, New York, NY “The Catch,” Art21 Magazine

 

Bibliography

2018 “Soul Recordings at Luis de Jesus,” by Matthew Lax, C ontemporary Art Review LA (CARLA) “Soul Recordings,” by Shana Nys Dambrot, A rtillery Magazine

2017 “Lex Brown,” Critics Picks, by Lauren O’Neill-Butler, A rtForum
“Lex Brown on the elastic reality of cartoons, clowning + subverting the economy of emotion,” by Selby Nimrod, AQNB

2016 “An Interview with Lex Brown,” by Gemma Godfrey, M achine Project

2015 “H a! Ha! Business!” by Tracy Rosenthal, Art in America

“Sex as Power, Black Identity, and the True Meaning of Love,” by Audra Wist, A utre Magazine

 

Lectures and Panels

2018 X-TRA Spring Launch s creening and conversation with Leslie Dick, OOF Books, Los Angeles, CA REVOLT/RESTRAINT , Pittsburgh Center for the Arts/Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Pittsburgh, PA

2017 “ The Engine ” Artist Lecture, Video Revival, New York, NY
Cave Girls + Trashy Fashions: Unseen Post-Punk Video by Women, Whitney Humanities Center, Yale University, New Haven, CT

2016 Aesthetics of Doing: Tangible Utopia , A Blade of Grass, New York, NY

2014 Artist Lecture, Marjorie Barrick Museum, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV

 

Continued Education

2018 Clown Weekend, The Funny School of Good Acting, New York, NY

2017 Pachinko Clown Workshop , Donna Oblongata, Wheelock, VT
Ensemble Director, Lecoq 101, & Clown 2 , Movement Theater Studio, New York, NY
Physical Comedy & Clown Technique, C hristopher Baye s, New Haven, CT

2015 Dr. Brown-ing Clowning 7-Week Workshop, The Clown School, Los Angeles, CA

2014 Clown Intensive, D r. Brown, The Clown School, Los Angeles, CA

 

Work Experience

September 2017 – December 2017
Teaching Artist at Time In Children’s Art Initiative, New York, NY

September 2017
Visual Arts Instructor, Pocono Environmental Education Center, NJ

September 2016 – December 2016
Teaching Assistant, Sandra Burns, Sculpture Basics, Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT Digital Media Center Teaching Fellow, Yale University, New Haven CT

January 2014 – December 2015
Studio Manager, Petra Cortright Studios LLC, Los Angeles, CA

September 2013 – December 2013
Studio Assistant, Brian Bress, Los Angeles, CA

June 2013 – August 2013
Children’s Workshop Lead Coordinator and Teacher at Thomas Hirschhorn’s G ramsci Monument, Bronx, NY

March 2013 – May 2013
Studio Assistant, Lilly McElroy, Los Angeles, CA

December 2012 – March 2013
Intern, MOCAtv, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA