a round sculpture covered in a glimmering black mosaic with sharp clear crystals jutting out near the bottom right along with another bulbous shape

“Beyond Mind” (2023), vintage crystal, glass, quartz, obsidian, tourmaline, and mixed media, 27 x 26 x 13 inches. Photo by Luc Demers. All images © Lauren Fensterstock, shared with permission

When a massive star dies, it collapses with an enormous explosion that produces a supernova. In some cases, the remains become a black hole, the enigmatic phenomenon that traps everything it comes into contact with—even light itself.

The life cycle of stars informs the most recent works by artist Lauren Fensterstock, who applies the principles of such stellar transformations to human interaction and connection. From her studio in Portland, Maine, she creates dense mosaics of fragmented crystals and stones including quartz, obsidian, and tourmaline that glimmer when hit by light and form shadowy areas of intrigue when not.

Cloaking sculptures and large-scale installations, Fensterstock’s dazzling compositions evoke natural forms like flowers, stars, and clouds and speak to cosmic and terrestrial entanglement. “I have to admit that I agonize over the placement of every single (piece),” the artist shares. “There are days where it flows together like a magical puzzle and other days where I place, rip out, and redo a square inch of surface again and again for hours. Even amidst a huge mass of material, every moment has to have that feeling of effortless perfection.”

 

a massive black orb with spikes and glimmering crystals hangs from the ceiling over a bed of black fringe

“The totality of time lusters the dusk” (2020), mixed media, installation at The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Photo by Ron Blunt

The gems are sometimes firmly embedded within the surface and at others, appear to explode outward in an energetic eruption. Celestial implosions are apt metaphors for transformation, the artist says, and “pairs of stars speak to the complexities of personal connections… In the newest work—which explores vast sky maps filled with multiple constellations—I attempt to move beyond a single star or an isolated self to show the entanglement of the cosmic whole.”

While beautiful on their own, the precious materials explore broader themes in aggregate.  Just as astrology uses constellations and cosmic machinations to offer insight and meaning into the unknown, Fensterstock’s jeweled sculptures chart relationships between the individual and the universe to draw closer to the divine.

The artist is currently working toward a solo show opening this fall at Claire Oliver Gallery in Harlem. Inspired by her daily meditation practice, she’ll present elaborately mapped creations of lotuses, black holes, fallen stars, and a bow and arrow that appear as offerings to the universe. In addition to that exhibition, the artist is showing in May at the Shelburne Museum and will attend a residency in Italy this September, to work on a book about entanglement and artist muses. Find more about those projects and her multi-faceted practice on her website and Instagram.

 

a detail image of mosaic crystals with a cluster of a spiky crystals

Detail of “Dwelling” (2023), vintage crystal, glass, quartz, and mixed media, 18 x 16 x 13 inches. Photo by Luc Demers

left: a black floral sculpture covered in mosaic tiles and glimmering crystals. right: right: a silver floral sculpture covered in mosaic tiles and glimmering crystals.

Left: “The Undiluted” (2023), vintage crystal, glass, quartz, obsidian, tourmaline, and mixed media. Photo by Luc Demers. Right: “The Unhurt” (2023), vintage crystal, glass, quartz, and mixed media, 22 x 27 x 14 inches. Photo by Luc Demers

string of black beads dangle from black cloud like sculptures covered in beads, mosaic, and crystals

“The totality of time lusters the dusk” (2020), mixed media, installation at The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Photo by Ron Blunt

left: a floral sculpture with numerous leaves all covered in glimerring stones and crystals. right: a floral wall sculpture with black glimmering stones in the center and silver petals

Left: “The Many” (2023), vintage crystal, glass, quartz, and mixed media, 38 x 38 x 10 inches. Image courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery. Right: “Heart of Negation” (2022), vintage crystal, glass, quartz, and mixed media, 54 × 54 × 14 inches

a half-orb sculpture with a glimmering black inside and sharp clear crystals around the outside

“Eclipse” (2022), vintage crystal, glass, quartz, obsidian, tourmaline, and mixed media. Photo by Luc Demers

three black cabinets on a wall with black objects and large growths overwhelming the shelves

“The Order of Things” (2016), shells and mixed media

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