Lauren Levato Coyne
Self Portrait as Thief in the Night
graphite pencil and colored pencil on Bristol
Wunderkammer, literally “wonder room” but what now is commonly called a cabinet of curiosities, arose in mid-sixteenth-century Europe as a way for naturalists, scientists, the rising merchant class, and aristocrats to show off their ever expanding collections. These collections contained drawings of foreign creatures, diagrams of impossible machines, and objects of the exotic, both real and artificial. The collections spanned and often defied categorization, though were typically displayed together by likeness: art, zoology, spiritualism, medical anomalies, fable, myth, and monsters all made up a typical Wunderkammer. These rooms were repositories not only of objects, but also of memories.
Artist and writer Lauren Levato Coyne is a collector of exotic and unusual specimens with a focus on the entomological and anatomical. Levato Coyne’s work comes from the intersection of wonder and memory and how the body itself becomes a Wunderkammer, amassing all manner of mysterious and confounding issues, dramas, revelations, and dilemmas that either touch us as a fleeting corporeal moment or take up permanent residence in the body’s collection. The themes of body as wonder, memory, and curiosity have been the foundation of Levato Coyne’s ongoing series of self-portraits.