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Artist Beck Lowry

Updated: Apr 18

Beck Lowry (New Haven, Connecticut, 1980) has exhibited in New York at Elijah Wheat Showroom, Art Miami, Select Fair, and Volta, and in Los Angeles at Klowden Mann. Their work has been featured in Maake Magazine and New American Paintings, and reviewed in Artforum.

Lowry has completed residencies at Millay Arts and Interlude and their work has been acquired by numerous private art collections and is part of the collection at Gateway Community College in New Haven, CT. Lowry holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and a Certificate in African Studies from Smith College. Lowry lives and works in Connecticut.

"My sculptures are elaborate wall-hung abstractions carved from assemblages of laminated plywood and intricately ornamented in oil paint, fabric scraps, thread, and other mixed media. Largely biomorphic in imagery and form, the works draw language from the natural world (mimicking the aposematic markings and structural coloration of flora and fauna) as well as from the rich inheritance of decorative patterning made by artisans for millennia. The work is born of a need to build, to exert myself through physical ritual, and to locate myself experientially within a lineage of laborers that includes ancient stone carvers, woodworkers and weavers, as well as makers within my own family who built houses, wooden boats and fashioned jewelry. Through intensive, devotional labor, I explore a curiosity about the talismanic capacity of objects to protect, to store memory/history, and to embody incantations."

Tell us a little about yourself (where you are from) and your background in the arts.

I grew up in CT on the long island sound in a magically beautiful place. The beach was essentially my back yard. My parents were both makers and many people in our broader community were artists and tinkerers as well. My father was a carpenter who couldn’t throw anything away so there were materials and tools all around me, including a giant scrap wood pile from which I sourced material. My mother was a jeweler with a studio in the house and introduced me to a whole different set of tools and materials. My aunt, who lived next door was an incredible abstract painter and although she was very shy and private about it, I would sneak off to look at her work hung in the hallways. I had an older cousin who was also very influential and my brother too was always up to something, usually building boats and testing their buoyancy in the Sound.

By the time I finished high school though, the experience of watching both my parents struggle to make a living scared me into a more practical path. I made a conscious and difficult decision not to go to art school and instead went to Smith College where I studied Economics and then worked for ten years supporting research on economic and health inequalities in the developing world. By my early 30s a series of difficult life events left me struggling emotionally and in 2012, I left my paid job, intending to take a break and re-calibrate. I took up painting again, which I had mostly abandoned since college, and found myself unable to put it back down.

What kind of work are you currently making?

Currently my work is taking on two somewhat distinct forms - both involve largely the same process and materials and both ride the line between painting and sculpture. One body of work is slightly more sculptural and limby. They tend to be large and very organic in from. And the other body of work are pieces that are roughly rectangular in form and have a central painting made on top of an undulating woven surface. These “painted weavings” read more like paintings, but the sculptural elements are still quite prominent. I enjoy working in both modes simultaneously.

The sculptures are somewhat more meditative for me as they tend to incorporate more repetitive patterning than the paintings. And I turn to the paintings when I am in a more expressive or restless mood and feel the need to be looser, less prescribed. But there are elements of each that show up in the other. In fact, the first weavings I did were little inlaid sections on a larger sculpture. Recently I have been testing a way to make larger weavings and I am excited to see what that opens up for me.

What is a day like in the studio for you?

I am typically in the studio from about 11-5, after finishing my paid work in the morning. I work in the garage out behind our house, so the studio day starts as soon as I can close my computer. I’m usually working on a few pieces at a time and there are so many different steps to my process that I can be doing very different things from day to day. Some days I am outside cutting plywood pieces to build up a form, or carving a form that’s already been built, or sanding after the form has been carved.

But the bulk of my days are spent inside my studio, either working on extending a pattern I’ve decided on (this typically means sitting at a table with the work on it’s back in front of me, using a razor blade to create detailed patterning) or working on a painting (which typically means a heap of fabric scraps on the floor and table, and alternating between painting with the work on the wall and sitting down with the piece to peel or scrape off layers or to adhere new fabric scraps to the surface. There’s almost always music on, sometimes a podcast, but I like to be able to lose myself in the work and music is most conducive to that.

What are you looking at right now and/or reading?

I am learning how to be a better reader in my 40s. I realized recently that I am allowed to read novels, rather than trying to force myself to read non-fiction to make myself smarter. Right now I am trying to read, in some cases reread, Toni Morrison’s work in chronological order. I am making very slow progress. My only other consistent read these days is the New Yorker, especially the fiction.

Where can we find more of your work? (ex. website/insta/gallery/upcoming shows)

I have a two-person show opening April 6th with Ashley Lyon at Headstone Gallery in Kingston, NY and will be showing with Elijah Wheat Showroom at Future Fair in Chelsea, May 2-4.

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