We had the good fortune of connecting with Lori Bauman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lori, how do you think about risk?
I love risk. I love taking risks in the gender bending content of my artwork, in creative business investments and in questioning cultural tradition in general. Can an artist or entrepreneur survive if we’re not risk takers? Today, I say it’s unlikely. I believe risk is a necessary part of living, especially if you want to have an unexpected or above average outcome. Risk is not easy but life without risk is very basic. The unknown, or the future, has always interested me more than the known, or the past. Look at the narratives of my artworks and you will see a studied and thoughtful respect for history translated to meet a non-binary future. I’d rather regret the things I’ve tried and missed, than regret those shots I never took. When I find myself being risk adverse, I consciously lean in and ask myself why? Fear? What am I wanting to avoid? What’s the worse case scenario? That doesn’t mean I don’t manage my outcomes or avoid unnecessary pain or loss. Assessing risk vs reward is part of every career and life equation. Risk is most often a choice and it doesn’t always comes naturally or easily for me. When something feels a bit uncomfortable, that’s when I know I need to pay attention and consider taking a risk. And sooner rather than later, generally works best for me. I can often be impatient and I continue to work on that flaw, but I also realize that my impatience some times works in my favor. I’m quick to consider the most important criteria and make a decision. Dwelling gives us too much time to let the fear seep in and stop us. Analysis paralysis. Fear is what I’m really avoiding by embracing risk. Fear of wasting life and opportunity. What is the opposite of risk? Security, safeness, dependability? What is the cost of counting on others for our feeling secure? Should we believe in others more than we believe in ourselves? What is risk? Openness, exposedness, fortune, luck? I’ve always believed we make our own luck. Risk is about being independent. Being confident, calm, on the offense more often than the defense. How much risk we can tolerate in our careers, relationships and lives is directly linked to how much quality we can squeeze out of all these things. Risk tolerance is like a muscle. We need to build it slowly and consistently to develop beyond average. I want to squeeze out all the growth and opportunity this life affords and that, I believe, requires a good amount of risk. Living a life of risk has provided me results that have exceeded my expectations and I am grateful for that. Not only in my studio practice but in the disciplines of education, launching a NFP art venture, my relationships and in real estate and other investment opportunities. I’m far enough down the road to realize my philosophy of risk taking has enriched my life at every juncture. Risk has propelled me personally and professionally, but possibly most importantly in my role as a mother. I’ve raised three humans to become risk taking and analytical young adults. Although all three of them chose a “secure” path in financial careers, I can see the influence I’ve had on them in the way they bring creativity and risk taking to their professions and personal lives. They are critical thinkers but have personalities that are curious, fearless and confident which has led them down some very interesting paths that many of their peers were afraid to travel. They are not afraid to live in foreign places, make investment gambles and trust their own judgment. They are quick to recognize when they’re unhappy, when something’s not working, analyze why and make the necessary change. And how do I measure if I’ve done a good job with them? Every one of them is a risk taker, happy, kind and much smarter than their mother.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m excited about my latest venture into apparel design with the help of FABRIC Tempe. This idea really begins with my Fables & Fantasies Project. This work is a study and translation of ancient gender and sexuality constructs and beliefs, their rituals and ceremonies, as their meanings perpetuate through time. What began with the series “Saints vs Sinners” continued with several series and the beginnings of an apparel line. You can follow this Project at www.loribauman.com. “Fashion Portraits” and “Jesus on the Run” are also part of the Fables & Fantasies Project. I begin each series with a study of cultural norms or traditions and religion as inspiration and use this research as a beginning point for these narratives. I am interested in the mortality and universality of these issues and I question their relevance in modern time. This work explores, through fashion, a narrative of how, why and the effects of clothing and its relation to gender as it has changed through time. How the construct of feminine/masculine ideals have dictated shapes, fabrics, styles, structures, behaviors and how these elements have played a role in restricting movement, thoughts, abilities and aspirations. This work reflects, rejects and challenges gender role assignment and bias. Inviting the viewer to participate in my work by actually wearing it is a new way of working for me. This idea of collaborating with the viewer began to develop during the Covid pandemic isolation.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When I have a friend visiting our days usually start off with a hike. Combining a physical activity and sunshine lend to great open and deep conversations. I learn so much on those hikes! My favorite hikes are Sunrise Peak, Lost Dog Wash, Adero Canyon for the fabulous views and Flat Iron Peak for a real physical challenge. If you can work with the crowds, Camel Back followed by brunch in Old Town is always a great time. Afternoons call for a nap and more conversation at the pool. Evenings here are easy to fill with art explorations. First Fridays in Phoenix or a Roosevelt Row mural tour top my list. A favorite place for cocktails or dinner in Phoenix is Jackalope. Thursday Night Gallery walks in Old Town are fantastic, followed by dinner at the Mission or Citizen Public House. Friday nights are my favorite and to kick off the weekend with music and people watching, Old Town Tavern never disappoints. Music on the patio of the JW Marriott and music at the Valley Ho with dinner at ZuZu are great. But the real gem? AZ88 has the best local martinis and burgers and comes with the added bonus of an interesting art installation.Other regular cultural stops to make with visitors are the Musical Instrument Museum which is so much more interesting than it sounds, Taliesen West, Cosanti, The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Phoenix Art Museum. The Dessert Botanical Gardens night events are always fabulous, as well.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My first memory of risk taking is physical. Organized sports for females was just getting started back in my youth. Those experiences gave me the confidence and a thirst for adventure and risk taking which would be formative to the rest of my life. I owe a great deal of thanks to those early coaches, captains and educators that guided me and allowed me to experience small successes which I could build on. That sense of physical success grew into a thirst for physical adventure seeking and formed the trajectory of my professional thinking. I found those same accomplishments, preparations, sensations and emotions learned in sports cross over and allow me to push boundaries in the creative content of my art making, in co-founding an art business and other business endeavors. The risk taking skills I learned in my youth through sports directly translate to business and life skills. I’ve gotten a lot of milage from those early lessons.
Photo of Lori by Mark Hines Risk Scuplture by Cathy Rose