Lauren McCleary
Teaching Artist




Curriculum Vitae


Curatorial Projects


Studio 84, Genessee, Idaho

Exhibiting artists included: Mary Welcome, Shanti Norman, Noah Schuerman, Kristen Becker, Ann Christenson, Lucy Holtsneider, Stacy Isenbarger, Kat Fekkes, Ellen Vieth. Studio 84 is a private gallery run by Ellen Vieth, a Genesee artist and businesswoman.

By definition, a loop is a structure, series, or process, the end of which is connected to the beginning. The works in the exhibit respond to this connection and consider the motion, relationship, shape and form of loops and ways in which we find ourselves traveling from beginning to end and back again. 

When given the chance to organize a group exhibit at Studio 84 I looked at recurring themes in my own work such as cycles, relationships, and boundaries and considered how a group of artists might approach a similar theme from different perspectives and methods of making. The above definition of loop was the prompt for some to create new pieces or act as the lens used for selecting pieces already made. The new works I created for LOOP look specifically at  human relationships with endangered or threatened species and our efforts to understand how even the smallest thing disappearing matters if we see them as indicators of a larger issue.

My own relationship to each artist in the exhibit spans from “former student of” to “current instructor of”, from decade-long collaborator to current colleague, to relationships built on the Palouse because the common denominator of art caused our paths to cross.

The rural communities that make up the region we know as the Palouse are full of creative people, many of them actively making artwork. I met Lucy Holtsnider, Kristen Carlson Becker, and Ellen Vieth because of our shared interests in the arts. Lucy has since moved away but I have followed her work and organizing an exhibit was the perfect opportunity to see it here in person. I admire how Lucy impresses her observations on climate and place into unique handmade monotypes that cause us to consider the relationship of the materials and where she might be transporting us via her abstract cartography. 

Conversations with Kristin Becker often revolve around our shared experiences of mothering young children and the related balancing act of trying to make a living and keep an art practice going. Sometimes a deadline is the only thing that raises that art practice up to the top of the list. Kristin’s pieces Unbroken Loop and Broken Loop cleverly lineate her daily reality into a creative exercise. Gathering all of the drawing materials in one's house when you’ve got an artist, a poet, a 5 year old, and a 2 year old under one roof creates quite the challenge. It also playfully tells us about how a day can go, especially at home with young children, during a pandemic. A repetitive, sometimes claustrophobic, sometimes chaotic, but ultimately jammed with energy and creativity kind of experience.

I was a student of Ann Christenson’s during my MFA studies at WSU from 2007-2009. Continuing to live in the Palouse has provided me with the great fortune to keep learning from Ann post formal education. Ann is a hero of mine and I am thrilled to show her paintings from Series of Watercolors 2018-2019, or “dining room table adventures” (as she refers to them). Ann’s playful and poignant aesthetic fluidly travels between her more well known three-dimensional ceramic works and the two-dimensional works seen here. Viewing her watercolor series allows us to join her on her dining room adventures, traveling with our eyes between layers of rich color and leaping from curve to curl.

During those same MFA years my path crossed with Mary Welcome and we have since collaborated on many projects big and small. As an artist-organizer rooted in community engagement, Mary’s work often takes shape in many non-traditional formats, but for LOOP she returns to her process of poetically piecing together imagery asking of herself  “can you paint a portal?” She writes:  A pandemic puts us all in an endless cycle of risk and revision; we fold and we fault, we bend and we break. The snake eats it’s tail and we’re back at the beginning again. The series explores “how to raise a dead end back to life and makes a home out of the places that snag at your imagination when you’re sitting still.”

In the Fall of 2019 I started in my position at the University of Idaho as the Professor of Art Education. My path to this position was non-linear, but I am thankful to find myself back in a space where I get to work alongside people like Stacy Isenbarger, the Foundations Coordinator in the College of Art and Architecture, as well as Noah Schuerman and Kat Fekkes, current graduate candidates in Art + Design. In our shared academic environment we engage in a constant idea exchange, offering things we’ve learned and together seeking new ways to translate and transform materials into messages. 

It is important to know that Shanti Norman is the Middle School Art Teacher at Moscow Middle School, a job, in my opinion, that deserves the highest regard. When asked to “pivot to online” during the Spring semester Shanti developed a series of prompts for her students to consider how they can sustain a feeling of being connected while spending so much time alone and apart. Her piece “Hold On” is an example she created  for an assignment that expresses “her own feelings of loosely hanging on by a thread in her personal and professional life.” 

I am thankful to Ellen Vieth for recognizing the value of contemporary art in rural spaces and creating a venue for that to happen. I think of Ellen like a net in all the best ways. Her paintings perfectly catch the light, color, and shapes of the Palouse. She has also created a network for art on the Palouse in the most sincere effort to share her own passion and excitement for seeing what other artists have been up to.

Organizing an art show during a pandemic has been an odd adventure, and I am grateful for the flexibility of each artist as we navigated deadlines and drop offs and how to potentially have an audience. It is a great reward to finally see the collection of work come together and have conversations in a beautiful space.

The Look Around

Palouse, Washington

Community arts space co-directed by David Herbold, Mary Welcome, Shane Huffman, and Hannah Clark.  We founded an all-ages venue, pop-up artspace, open classroom, and creative playground on Main Street in a town of 900 in eastern Washington. We hosted exhibitions, film festivals, musical performances, open studio events, workshops, and a small library during our two years of programming.

The Long & Short of It, A Collaborative Fiction

Lewis-Clark’s State College Center for Arts History, Clarkston, Washington

Collaboration with Mary Welcome, David Herbold, Stacy Isenbarger, Hannah Clark, and Shane Huffman. Each artist or team responded and built upon the work installed by the previous artist. The proces became a story that  could be read via the fishbowl window of the gallery.

Artworks Index

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Lauren McCleary © 2023