2021 Grand Prize Winner – Lauren Strawn



Sculpture: Bamboo sticks, paper, ink

Warped explores my perception of space through the lens of aphantasia, a condition limiting visual imagery. I am an artist who cannot perceive conceptual space, and this piece is an attempt to relay this feeling of confusion to the viewer. In my mind there is no imagery that assists in my navigating of the world. I cannot conceptualize the layout of my house, a place I’ve lived for most of my life. I can’t find the door at a grocery store. This lack of spatial awareness is difficult to explain to someone with a functioning visual memory, so I created this object to aid in understanding. It’s designed to look like a different form at every angle in an attempt to confuse the viewer as to how the object exists within space.

The piece is an experiment at creating false experiences of form. By drawing on edges that do not exist and the imagined shadows, and then photographing the piece at all different angles, it almost appears to be a different object in each photo, taking up a different amount of space. It is possible after a long moment of observation to discern which planes are flat and which are genuine, but that moment of confusion is what I was after. A moment where the viewer can’t be totally assured of their perception of the spatial qualities of the object in front of them.

Although not a literal representation of the difficulty I face remembering how to traverse campus without the aid of apps like Google Maps, I do hope that this piece helps to create better understanding between myself and the viewer about what it’s like to be unable to conceptualize spatial relationships.