Lauren Shapiro is a professional artist and experienced educator living and working in Miami, Florida. She finds inspiration from the unique ecology of tropical waters and botanical assemblages unlike anywhere else in the world - precious in their diversity and threatened by the effects of climate change. Shapiro explores these natural systems through her ceramic sculptures - often collaborating with scientists and architects to produce site-specific installations. She experiments with art's possibility to inspire change by combining clay with public engagement to cultivate environmental stewardship. Shapiro has a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics from the University of Miami, and her practice as a master ceramicist combines technology and craft. She uses digital fabrication techniques for mold making, casting, and hand-building with clay. Integrating new tools with traditional methods, she produces works that assemble into public art projects and render the topography of endangered ecosystems.
Since 2018, Shapiro has been working with scientists to convey essential research conducted on the impact of human-driven stressors on the environment. Through her sculptures and installations, Shapiro's research focuses on making endangered ecosystems more available and visible to the public. To create her work, she uses 3D models from scientific archives that digitally preserve these types of specimens for future generations and research. The models accurately represent living corals, made by stitching together 2-dimensional photographs captured by snorkelers and SCUBA divers. The resulting digital reproductions can be used for scientific measurements, virtual or augmented reality experiences, or turned into a physical model through 3D printing. For Shapiro, they become the foundation of her artwork to share coral reefs in a compelling and non-destructive way.