“If this is the end, what have I not done in this space?” 

Lauren Marchetti in her artist space at studio 17
Lauren Marchetti in her artist space at Studio 17

Lauren works with materials from the earth—natural stones—fossilized shells—the jewelry she makes is through a process called ‘electroforming’—on a low table are the stones she collects—half this studio is shared with Chad— “I like the flaws—all the inclusions… you never know what is inside until you open it.” She holds up a shell that began in an ocean that became a desert—she is speaking fast—she is excited.

Lauren Marchetti's collection of materials from the earth
Lauren’s collection

“There are so many skills and tools with this many artists! That is what is taken away if the studios close…All the access to all this potential”—Lauren’s studio is next to Kate—“It is entirely possible that my interest in chemical reaction developed because of Kate’s interest in nano particles.” Proximity of interests can develop by proximity of space—palettes can be affected and processes can be exchanged.

Aragonite is suspended in a glass beacon of blue liquid—on the edge of the glass beacon is a thick copper clip—Lauren has painted the tip of the aragonite with conductive paint and lowered it into the liquid—her hands in yellow rubber gloves—her eyes covered by clear safety glasses—I step back, unsure what is about to happen.

Aragonite suspended in a glass beacon of blue liquid
Aragonite suspended in a glass beacon of blue liquid

Her excitement is contagious— “This box with knobs is called the ‘rectifier’”—a cathode and an anode are hooked to electrical current—the goal: the current will cause the copper particles to attach to the stone— “If the current is too high, the paint will reach out toward the copper”—I think of a child’s fingers reaching for a mother—or static hair hardened into metal— “At the right current the paint calls to the copper and the copper attaches itself to the stone where the paint is applied”—Lauren’s art is directing the deposit of metal to the stone.

Down the hall from Lauren’s studio is Troung’s studio—this morning I wandered into his open door—he handed me a book—a quote—

Another friend tells you you have to learn not to absorb
the world. She says sometimes she can hear her own
voice saying silently to whomever—you are saying this
thing and I am not going to accept it. Your friend refuses to carry what doesn’t belong to her.

Claudia Rankine, Citizen

I am trying to think about the things I carry that I shouldn’t carry—I look at the stone submerged in water—the invisible current that draws the copper toward the stone—this balance is so sensitive—a slight turn of the nob will create a growth—the paint will try to reach the copper—like shock—I try to think about the first tech bus I saw—before I knew about tech buses—I saw it outside Dolores Park Cafe one morning. I saw all these people line up with their coffees against the wall—and I was confused—was this the new 33 bus stop? Was the bus very late? Was this some type of tour? And then a big, clean bus pulled up and these individuals climbed in—where were they going—who they were—I didn’t see what the impact of one bus on one corner would be to the city—it was like the invisible current pulsing through the blue water.

I continue reading further the quote Truong has handed me—

You take in things you don’t want all the time. The second you hear or see some ordinary moment, all its intended targets, all the meanings behind the retreating seconds, as far as you are able to see, come into focus. Hold up, did you just hear, did you just say, did you just see, did you just do that?

Claudia Rankine, Citizen
Lauren Marchetti's studio tools
Studio tools

It’s not that the technology shouldn’t be here—but, like the process Lauren is conducting—there needs to be a careful balance—the stone is held between wooden chopsticks and slowly placed in the liquid—she has painted the edge of the stone— Lauren considers the functionality of every line—the contour of what nature made—“It is necessary to execute things with an editorial eye—the metal can’t be removed once it adheres to the stone.”

She holds the white crystallized shell on a delicate chain—it has undergone so many changes—thousands of years—for Lauren it is like wearing the history of the earth—one kind of crystal will take over another—and I study the white shell—the dry sand blowing over it—and try to think of the ocean that was once there—

Hold up did you just hear, did you just say, did you just see, did you just do that?

Claudia Rankine, Citizen

About STUDIO 17: The Artists’ Space by Alex Nichols

At the end of June—a community of over 70 artists—at the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District—must leave STUDIO 17 to make way for high-cost working space. This blog will catalog the end of this community above Thrift Town (on Mission &17th Street) and what it means. To understand what is being lost—I will spend the next two months carefully observing how artists work in their space—to give an intimate look at the inside of this community.

More about Alex Nichols:

Read more:

Feature on Alex Nichols and STUDIO 17: The Artists’ Space

How the journey began… STUDIO 17: The Artists’ Space by Alex Nichols

More Featured Artists:

Lucinda Buxton Martin

Rick D’Elia

Jeffrey Martin


Daniel Lichtenberg

Ellen Rosenthal

Lauren Marchetti

Adam Barry

Lexie Bouwsma

Denise Laws

Andy Vogt

Qinmin Liu

Truong Tran

Kate Nichols

Published on April 16, 2015

Published by Alex Nichols

Alex Nichols is a San Francisco based interdisciplinary artist and writer who deconstructs the experience of self, tracks the perceived and performs the narrated idea of self through a disarming physicality, rigor and humor. Her current projects utilize video, monologue, performance, and installation, reconstructing the physical boxes, strings and language of constraints.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: