A Conversation with Lanie DeLay

by Michael Westfried

photos by Nicholas Bostick

Lanie DeLay is not only intelligent, easy-to-talk-to, and dedicated, she is also  extremely talented and one of the “hottest” artists coming out of SMU, having won the SMU Art Department merit scholarship two years in a row, Honorable mention at Expo 2008 SMU Meadows Exploration Grant and the Charles Aberg New York Travel Award.
I met Lanie in 2008 at CentralTrak’s second show, where we both were showing artwork and which, strangely enough, hosted a large, panoramic image by Peter Ligon of the intersection near the Shamrock Hotel Studios on Elm Street, a communal studio space where Lanie currently works, along with Peter Ligon and several other artists.

I was pleased to be able to meet up with Lanie DeLay in her studio there to talk a little bit about her career and artwork.

MJWS: So, Lanie, where did you go to art school?
Lanie DeLay: Well, initially I went to UT Austin, and I was in the architecture department.  But while I was there I realized that what I was interested in were projects that didn’t have utilitarian concerns, so I left and went back to school and finished up at SMU at the art department there. This fall I’m heading up to New York to get my MFA from SVA.
MJWS: You were just in New York a little while ago.  What were you doing there?
Lanie DeLay: Yeah, I was making work. I got a travel grant from SMU from the Meadows to be in New York specifically. While I was there I was working on a series of gouaches, and also a series of double-portraits that were works on paper as well as video works.
MJWS: So what’s the hardest part of being an artist?
Lanie DeLay: Time… Money… Time and money.
MJWS: How long have you been at it do you think?
Lanie DeLay: A long time in various formats. Even my junior high and high school were for art.
MJWS: I bet that was fun. You knew you were going to be an artist for a long time.
Lanie DeLay: Yeah, yeah it’s different though when you’re a teenager. I feel as though as a teenager you’re not quite sure how to go about it or what it will turn into but as an adult I made some realizations about wanting to pursue it seriously.
MJWS: Did it turn out to be what you imagined it being when you were younger?
Lanie DeLay: I don’t know if I had specific ideas yet about what it would be like, except maybe thinking about things that you would make, or knowing that you will be making art but that your interests might change; you don’t necessarily know what kind of projects you will be making, but even when I think back on being a teenager now, there is a kind of continuity, even in making portraits, so some things have kind of stuck with me.
MJWS: Where was the last place that you showed art?
Lanie DeLay: I actually had a lot of shows last year. The most recent thing that I did was at The Reading Room; it was the Tasteful show that Kristen Cochran put together. There were a lot of artists in that, and it was an interesting kind of “happening” in some ways more than a traditional gallery exhibit. I also had a big open studio show here at the Shamrock which was a lot of fun and a big success. Before that it was at Bows and Arrows; there was a group show there. In the spring last year I showed at MFA in a show of video work.
MJWS: So you were one of the first artists to show at The Reading Room. What was that like?
Lanie DeLay: It was great. It was fun. Karen Weiner is wonderful. She has such an interesting project. That space is like a little jewel box that right there on Parry, covered in ivy, right  by CentralTrak and 500X.  People are still finding out about it because it’s so new. It was wonderful because Karen has such a great vision for her place and it’s something different every time. I think that my show there was probably the most conventional in some sense, having artwork on view in a gallery-type setting. Other times there have been all kinds of projects there, like the Tasteful show, where it’s very participatory.  There have been readings and a lot of different shows there, but she is interested in the intersection of art and text based cultures, and they always have to do with that in some sense or another.
MJWS: How did you find about The Reading Room?
Lanie DeLay: I’ve known Karen for a while, and she came and visited me in New York and did a studio visit and looked at the work I was doing. Prior to that I had been doing installations, so people knew me more for that, and she was really surprised that I draw and paint as well. She really liked the work, and she came back – and I think that this idea had been percolating with her for a while of finding a new space – so she found a space and talked to me about it and asked if I would do a show.
MJWS: So what are you working on now?
Lanie DeLay: I am working on three different sets of work right now. I am working on a series of work that draws from these disaster blueprints. They have come in different iterations over the years, but the one that I’m working on right now comes from the architectural plans of the collapsed Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah from a few years ago. I have also done some that involved airplanes, and the Titanic, and a couple of different things. I’m also working on a continuation of the portraits, the double portraits. There are sort of two subgroups of them; that one [motioning to an unfinished painting] comes from things that I’ve been doing at work, and the other comes from the double portraits that I’ve been doing here at the studio. Sunny Sliger is an artist who’s here at the Shamrock also, and we’re going to do some collaborative stuff together that’s going to involve choreography, video, a whole body of work. The other thing that I’m working on right now is a performative installation that is coming up in a couple of weeks at Eastfield College.  That is a show that Iris Bechtol and David Willburn are co-curating.
MJWS: That sounds interesting
Lanie DeLay: It’s going to be a lot of fun.
MJWS: If you had to classify yourself as an artist, how would you describe yourself?
Lanie DeLay: What do you mean?
MJWS: Would you consider yourself a surrealist, neo-expressionist?
Lanie DeLay: No, I wouldn’t take any of those kinds of tags.
MJWS: So, just contemporary artist?
Lanie DeLay: Yeah. I work in many different modes. There are common veins in the many types of work that I do and it ends up taking different formats, but the thought process behind them all is pretty similar.
MJWS: What influences you in your artwork?
Lanie DeLay: Day to day life. A number of things have had a big influence on me, some of which have to do with legal proceedings. My father was also a lawyer, and I am really interested in this idea that there is this sort of factual set of events, but that the communication of those events is incredibly difficult, if not impossible to convey.  Whether there is taped footage, or recorded conversations or documents detailing information, whether it’s blueprints, there are all sorts of ways to communicate information, but that information disintegrates, deteriorates or collapses in some kind of way. There is a breakdown in what is trying to be conveyed and what ends up coming out to the receiver of the information.



Gallery Archive – Centraltrak – UT Dallas Artists Residency


Central Track: The U.T. Dallas Artists Residency bears a twofold mission of promoting unparalleled artistic experimentation and encouraging critical engagement with the local urban context.



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