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Community Connections with Lauren Muney, Historic Silhouette Artist

Interviews in this series were conducted by Teresa Marcus, Community Engagement Coordinator, and Chelsea Kelly, Naturalist

Lauren Muney, Historic Silhouette Artist
Lauren Muney, Historic Silhouette Artist

COVID-19 has brought waves of uncertainty throughout many communities. Historic London Town would like to take this time to record the voices of some in our community who have been deeply affected. In this series, we interviewed community members to gain their insight on how they have been affected by this global event. In today’s #CommunityConnection, we’re talking to Lauren Muney, historic silhouette artist at Silhouettes By Hand.

Can you tell us more about your work?

I cut silhouettes freehand in the historical manner, with only scissors - without drawing, tracing any shadow, or using any machinery or software. I live in Baltimore, but I travel across the world cutting silhouettes. What do you love about your job? Making people happy with a historic portrait form. People find silhouettes charming, adorable, and sometimes nostalgic. I love talking about how this portrait form is part of their own history, as their parents, grandparents, and great-greats had silhouettes made - before photography was invented and even when photographs were plentiful.

What is the biggest challenge of your job? Helping people understand that a freehand-scissored portrait is not an exact photograph of the loved one. It’s amazing, but nothing can be a photograph except a photograph. You can see the examples here - these silhouettes were all cut freehand with scissors, but they are handmade, not photographic.

Silhouette by Lauren Muney
Silhouette by Lauren Muney

What is the hardest part of the COVID-19 situation?

All of my in-person events across the globe are canceled, at least until August. That means, except for mail orders that come in, I have no income. I had events - favorite ones, too - scheduled at museums, corporate events, weddings, festivities. I had a full national and international schedule in my calendar; some public events, some private events. All of the facilities and hosts are sad too - we are all together being heartsick and upheaved, and we miss meeting people in person.

When this all ends what are you most looking forward to? I will be most excited to meet people again and cut silhouettes live, in person. Crossing fingers we will still have enjoyable in-person fall and winter events. However I’ve also used this pandemic-shutdown to innovate and source new silhouette offerings, which I am inputting into my website after developing. I’ve been practicing new techniques daily, such as cutting full-length silhouettes.

What can people do to help your community? Many artists like me are taking mail-orders - be festive in your choices for things to do in the pandemic. If you can afford to buy things, enjoy this opportunity to shop online. Just because we can't meet you at big events, we can still fulfill orders from our home studios. I’ve done mail orders for years, because I meet and inspire so many people across the world. People were especially ordering silhouettes for Mother’s Day; and this week I even had orders from New Zealand and Canada as well as across the USA.

My website is where I have the most information, and the Mail Order. I also have interesting photos on my Instagram at artisanal_selfie, and my Facebook

ReLeaf Fund

Grow the ReLeaf Fund

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London Town: Today and Tomorrow Survey

You may have noticed an increase in our online postings lately. Will you take a short survey about what posts and virtual programs you'd like? You can also share your thoughts about re-opening London Town and what sort of programs you'd like to see after the crisis is over. Take the survey here

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