Lola Dement Myers's art practice, life, and work span two worlds — the one we inhabit, and LOLA WORLD (est. 2018). She has explored the internet as a place to create worlds and characters as long as she can remember. While the phrase LOLA WORLD emerged officially in 2018, the artist explains that the concept "started at birth."
Lola is based in Chicago. Over the last 7 years she has studied art formally in schools like the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and worked as a studio assistant under artists like the Boston-based Bandulu. While her practice spans ceramics, sculpture, graphic design, painting, photography, and more, the best way to describe her work is image-making. Whichever materials she happens to be working with, her deep appreciation for presentation and composition shines through in all of her work.
Whether she’s in our world or LOLA WORLD, Lola prioritizes organization and compartmentalization. This priority manifests in her current obsession with lunch trays — she’s been creating slip-cast porcelain versions of these familiar objects. Lola's daily habits in our world only further underscore how the act of organization powers her art. She writes down all of her obsessions on a daily basis, journals (photo and written) intensely every day, and maintains a meticulous, full-to-the-brim 15' x 15' studio.
Looking at her pieces in silos, you can identify a ceramist, sculptor, or graphic designer. For Lola, though, she's still a photographer who knows that when it comes to her work, "it's all about the final image."
Lola Dement Myers
In your artist statement, you explain that you have been online for a very long time. What's your first internet memory or experience?
I guess, probably Webkinz.
You buy a physical stuffed animal — it comes with a code and then you plug it into the computer and make an account, and then you have your stuffed animal as a creature online in a community.
You have had these formative world-building experiences online from the very beginning, but you also worked with Boston artist Bandulu as a studio assistant when you were 16 — how did that come about?
I just email anyone and everyone. I try to do at least three people a week — anyone I'm thinking about. It's almost like writing love letters. for me. I just find someone I love, or hate, and write them an email and tell them what I'm thinking. For Pat, I emailed him and said, "I love what you're doing. If you ever need help, I'm your person. I'll sweep the floors". He's still my mentor and he said the other day he'll always remember that I offered to sweep his floors.
A LOT OF LOLA WORLD IS JUST ABOUT BRAND IDENTITY AND HOW FOOLISH IT IS.
How often do you think you get responses to these love letters?
Maybe 20 percent of the time, but that's kind of the best thing, they're out there and I know I did it. And you don't feel that weight of when you want to tell someone something. I think it's a good personal practice — but also, it's the only way I've gotten jobs and maybe the only way I will get jobs. Cold contact.
Do you view everything that you do online as work? Or are the lines blurred?
The lines are blurred. But, to keep my sanity, I say "I'm lola," lowercase l-o-l-a. Everything that happens online is LOLA, uppercase L-O-L-A. And she's kind of not me — she's a little bit mean. She's just a different entity from me and that construct helps me feel comfortable going forward and doing whatever I want. Everything that happens on Twitter or on Instagram is part of L-O-L-A. The lines are blurred, though, and everything is part of my practice. A lot of LOLA world is about brand identity and how foolish it is. You can't smell a person on the internet, you can't have this real interaction, why not just take it for what it is and fuck with it?
When you look back, how do you distinguish between different periods of your work?
Right now, not so much looking back, I see my work in periods of an obsession. Whatever is around you will create your work for you. I can tell when I started making work at an art school in high school — that changed my work completely, critical theory was being brought into it, more techniques. At SAIC I had access to machines and infinite access to fabrication materials and outputs and people. Now that I don't have that access my work has changed into more graphic work, a lot more pen and ink on paper, things that have an easy output in my 15' x 15' studio.
What are some obsessions that are done, or you aren’t obsessed with anymore?
One that’s done is I was really interested in editorial photography, and this obsession with portraying young people in this everlasting space. But, being a young person who knows that space doesn’t exist,that obsession is kind of over. An easy one to wrap my head around is Nike. I had an obsession not necessarily with Nike, but with recognizable brands, and brand logos, and I just attached myself to Nike.
Where did that start?
With Nike specifically, Jim Joe. His thought fueled a lot of my line of thought. He had a show in 2013 or 2014 at The Hole gallery that had one painting that had just a Nike check on it, and it was in magic marker, kind of crudely drawn. The title was Magic Marker on Canvas. That obstruction, I don’t know, that’s just so crazy to me, to focus on magic marker on canvas, and that just sort of set off everything.
WHATEVER IS AROUND YOU WILL CREATE YOUR WORK FOR YOU.
Being in your studio, it’s clear to me that one current obsession is lunch trays — walk me through that body of work.
I love compartmentalizing, I don't know, anything. It's so strange to me to organize food. More than the conceptual narrative of the tray, it's just formally beautiful. It's this composition of super simple shapes, it has a function, and I became enamored with that and started casting ones that were already made, then realized I could make my own and bring it more into my world. So, I started modeling, fabricating, and casting my own trays.
Now I kind of think of them as paintings, but someone said to me, “They're photos. At the end of the day, you're a photographer, that's what you've always done, and still do".
Why? What makes them photos?
Well, they're like photo paper. They're just a blank canvas, , and you can use them as a prop for another image, or you could overlay an image onto them, or you could manipulate them in a certain way, or you could have an editorial shoot with them. They're just this one binding force that is in an object.
Or you could eat off of them, right?
Yeah, exactly, or you could use them, which I also really like, that they can hold this personal place in someone's life. I have people send me photos every day. The Nike stuff was because Nike was a universal symbol, and eating is a universal action. My favorite part about the trays is sometimes I'll be eating on one and then I also have one mounted on the wall right next to me.
What do you think about this idea of being a consumer artist? Half-consumer, half-artist.?
Maybe it's facetious to say "or" — consumer or artist. I think most people are both. I mean, I'm 100 percent consumer, 100 percent artist.
Who are some people who inspire you or who you’re thinking about lately?
I might have to look. Everyday I write my obsessions down, so, that makes it a lot easier. We just ended September, but I'll look in September: Hunter S. Thompson, Steve Klein, Mario Sorrenti. huge obsession, Mario, but mostly his younger brother Davide Sorrenti. They're the reason I just bought a camera again and started journaling intensely everyday. Vaughn Bodē is an erotica artist from the 70s. Hugo Comte is another one —it's mostly photographers. At the end of the day, I just like to make images. So, people who make them best, I get obsessed with.
I LOVE COMPARTMENTALIZING... ITS SO STRANGE TO ME TO ORGANIZE FOOD. MORE THAN THE CONCEPTUAL NARRATIVE OF THE TRAY, ITS FORMALLY BEAUTIFUL.
What do you think about the idea of authenticity?
I think I just try to bypass it. I don't think it's important to the work. How do I deal with authenticity? I don't know — I just act corny on the internet. .
Yeah, your Twitter has been on fire lately. It's a nice stream of consciousness.
A lot of the time I'm talking about privacy and my favorite thing to say is that I act corny on the internet because I value my privacy.
You tweeted the other day "images, they consume me" — what is that about?
That's the work for me — it's making images. I have always loved it. It's maybe a being born on the internet kind of thing, always having the internet, always being able to consume images. There's a fixation on it.