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Profile in Style | Mark & Laurie Frick

“One of the things Austin lets you do is reinvent yourself,” Laurie Frick says, and she’s one to know.

Laurie and her husband Mark moved from the Bay Area to Houston in the mid-90s, and “it didn’t take long to realize we needed to get ourselves to Austin,” Laurie laughs. They both got jobs in tech management in Austin in 1999, deciding “this was a destination for us and [we] would live here until we dropped dead.” Today, their careers have taken them in pointedly different directions: Mark now manages individuals’ personal investments for Wells Fargo Advisors and Laurie is a full-time artist.

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Residing in an angular Bouldin neighborhood home designed by local architect Chris Krager of KRDB, the Frick’s modern home in many ways feels like a gallery space. The walls are lined with big, bold art pieces and colorful objects (many of which have personal connections, like the large portrait of Laurie taken by photographer (and friend) Leon Alesi that hangs in the front office); stark concrete floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a narrow floorplan add minimalist drama to the compact 1600-square-foot house. And while its modern design definitely stands out aside its 1930s cottage-style South Austin neighbors, the house exudes a welcome, unobtrusive freshness and inside is warm and comfortable despite being built from predominately glass and steel.

When we meet, Laurie is on the heels of a deadline for a show at Texas State University and her at-home studio is tidy chaos, with separate stacks of nearly-completed works on all corners of the room. Much of her portfolio reflects a relationship with data and the way we understand it, all manifested in big, conceptual pieces that draw parallels between aesthetics and numbers. “I play with the fantasy-future, and as an artist get to imagine what it would be like to live with wall-size patterns based on your personal data,” she explains. Through this, Frick’s work illustrates topics as varied as sleeping habits to annual travel, heart rates to email correspondence. “Literally everything that could be captured about you,” she says.

For one piece in her upcoming show, she is visually representing personal computer data, collected for over two years with a time management software called ManicTime. The program charts the amount of time spent in various computer programs—“every click, every website, every document, image, literally everything I touch online”— which Frick in turn translated into neat stacks of carved, hand-painted two-by-four-inch wooden blocks. In other words, it’s a physical model of her digital behavior. Next, she’ll work on an iPhone app “that tracks where you’ve been and makes little ‘hand-drawn’ patterns of your travels.”

Mark and Laurie also lead the Austin chapter of Quantified Self, a meet-up group for others who regularly track data, from self-diagnoses to personal investigations. Mark explains that with a career now in finance, his job is “all about numbers,” and that the group discussions about data and figures help him better understand himself and his own habits.

So despite careers that theoretically seem far from the tech word, the industry’s influence—and the unique perspective it has given the pair—is clear. Or in Mark’s words: “It’s just math.” Maybe so. But from art to investments, the Fricks’ interpretation and self-awareness about what this math means, how it can be contextualized, and to what purpose is certainly an inspiring and intriguing proposal.

Credits

Photography by: Jessica Pages

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