Lisa Solomon: Art that inspires

Lisa Solomon: Art that inspires

Lisa Solomon’s mixed media works revolve thematically around domesticity, craft, masculinity, femininity, and the pursuit of art as science and research. She is drawn to found objects, tending to alter them conceptually so that their meanings and original uses or intents are re-purposed. She describes her art as an experiment. Her studio and the world she interacts with, a laboratory. Like any good scientist, Lisa posts questions and conducts research.

Lisa’s forthcoming exhibition is CHROMA at Rare Device with Christine Buckton Tillman, a crowd sourced installation of doodads and bits arranged by color to cover a wall. This is the West Coast 2nd iteration of the exhibition, which opens August 5 from 6-9pm runs through September 6, 2016. More info and images of the whole process are available by looking at #chromainstallation 

Her upcoming solo exhibition at Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. Opens in November and runs through the end of 2016.

Currently an artist in residence at the Palo Alto Art Center where she was awarded a California Arts Council Grant to teach Color Meditation and Mindfulness to teens. Also most recently an artist in residence at Irving Street Projects where she worked on The Keepsake Project  for 3 months. She’s also been an artist in residence at Kala Art Institute and the Ulrich Museum of Art.

Art that inspires is a series in which established textile practitioners discuss artists and pieces that have been influential on their own creative journey. In this edition, Lisa Soloman talks us through what invigorates her when inspiration is in need.


Eva Hesse

Eve Hesse, Accession ll, Image from Detroit Institute of Art

Eve Hesse, Accession ll, Image from Detroit Institute of Art

Artist: Eva Hesse
Name of piece: Accession II
Year: 1969
Materials used: Galvanized steel and vinyl
Size of piece: 79.1 x 79.1 x 73.1 cm

I have loved Eve Hesse’s work from the moment I laid eyes on it when I was an undergrad in college. The tactileness, the innovative use of materials, the way she feminized a very masculine way of working and thinking, I find much of minimalism to exude a sense of masculinity and maleness, has always appealed to me. She made art materials of things that weren’t ever utilized in that context. She made work that felt very bodily and real, simultaneously beautiful, delicate and haunting – sometimes verging on gross. It also felt like she took her work seriously, but wasn’t afraid to have a sense of humor either.

I’m also completely drawn to the amount of labor and repetitiveness in her works. Those are traits that have become hallmarks of my own work and I feel a strong kinship solely in the way we manufacture work. I pretty much love all her work and just randomly chose this image as one to represent what she does.


Katherine Sherwood

Katherine Sherwood, After Ingres

Katherine Sherwood, After Ingres

Artist: Katherine Sherwood
Name of piece: After Ingres
Year: 2014
Materials used: Mixed media on found linen
Size of piece: 78 x 84 inches

Katherine Sherwood was a professor of mine in college. I also worked for her as a studio assistant for a bit when I had graduated. She was INCREDIBLY influential in so many ways. She suffered a pretty severe aneurysm when she was 40 and lost the use of her right hand, and had to relearn how to utilize other parts of her brain. She found a new way to make work and ended up garnering a lot of attention for it in the process.

I worked for her as she was figuring out this new way of working, making litho prints for her, helping her write grants. Watching how she conducted herself as a working artist AND as a mother, she had a young child at the time, has seeped into how I act now as a working artist and a mother.

This piece was from her last gallery exhibition. She discovered all these canvas reproductions of masterworks (Picasso, Matisse, Ingres, etc) that the University was about to throw out. She rescued them and made paintings that recall originally masterworks but incorporate her own language and research. She has been including imagery of her own brain, in this case in the figure’s head, since her aneurysm.

I adore her intellectualism – shifting a familiar painting by Ingres into a more contemporary work. I admire how she used found canvases and made sure the viewer could feel that history and reference – all the backs of the canvases that we see at the top of the piece tell the name and title of the work on the other side. Literally painting on the backs of so many paintings, made by men, objectifying women and objects to their standard of beauty, Katherine has twisted our relationship to those works. I also just adore that pattern on the bottom. Her sense of color and space, including just enough, leaving out just enough has always been as close to perfect as composition can get in my mind.


Indigo Blue

Ann Hamilton, Indigo Blue

Ann Hamilton, Indigo Blue

Artist: Ann Hamilton
Name of piece: Indigo Blue
Notable exhibitions: Originally commissioned for Places with a Past: New Site-Specific Art at Charleston’s Spoleto Festival, then acquired, redone at the San Francisco Museum of Art 1991/2007
Materials used: Blue work clothing, steel and wood base, wood table, chair, light bulb, books (military regulation manuals, blue bindings), saliva, pink pearl erasers, erasures, net sack, soybean

I admire almost all of Ann Hamilton’s work. Like Hesse, there is so much to connect to in so many of her works. I haven’t had the fortune to see many of her pieces in person. But this one I was able to.

This piece consists of a semi-truck amount (14,000 pounds) of blue work clothing, piled layer after layer, shirts on top of pants, on a huge platform. An attendant sat in front of the work erasing books taken from the building which housed slave trades with a pink pearl eraser and saliva leaving the eraser shavings to also accumulate over time.

Originally housed in a former auto repair shop on a street in South Carolina named after a family whose plantation helped to introduce indigo, this piece is a powerful reminder of our selective memories, and an invitation to think about labor, materials, and history more deeply. It is powerful not only because of it’s scale but also how all aspects of it have been intellectually and aesthetically considered. The enormous pile of clothing is all at once beautiful and overwhelming. The erasure of what might be slave transactions both frightening and completely congruent with much of society’s response to that period of time.

Once again I admire the use of materials, how they add a layer of meaning, and exist outside of what is typically considered an art context. Hamilton always inspires me to consider a physical place’s persona and how it might influence what can and should be made.


Morris Louis

Morris Louis, Delta Theta

Morris Louis, Delta Theta

Artist: Morris Louis
Name of piece: Delta Theta
Year: 1961
Materials used: Acrylic on canvas
Size of piece: 261 x 416.6cm

Recently I have taken to exploring color and mark making in my own practice. I’ve been calling the works ‘color meditations’ because they remind me of meditating. The way in which I lay down color mimics the way I breathe when trying to enter into mindfulness. They help me when I’m feeling stuck in the studio or act as a way for me to mentally prep myself to get to work. They are a space where I feel free to just explore and play, to make mistakes, and to bring enjoyment into my work. Sometimes my work is so laborious and repetitive I need a way to loosen up.

Of course, when I started them I felt compelled to revisit all the color field painters and my love for Morris Louis was reignited. I just love the use of color here, when you study this whole series you are naturally drawn to some more than others. In Delta Theta the balance between warm and cool colors feels perfect to me. Also, there is just a hint of layering of color which I really am drawn to. The space between the marks and their fluidity also is just perfection to my eye. Secretly I would love to make a fabric like this and make a long kaftan-esqe dress out of it.


Gees Bend Quilts

Loretta Pittway, Log Cabin

Loretta Pittway, Log Cabin

Artist: Loretta Pettway, Gees Bend Quilts
Name of piece: Log Cabin- Single Block – Courthouse Steps Variation Bricklayer
Year: 1959
Materials used: cotton
Size of piece: 70 x 84 inches

I think anyone in their right minds who works with textiles must at the very least respect if not LOVE Gees Bend quilts. I mean come on. I love them on so many levels: there’s the fact that they were made to be utilitarian, out of scraps and leftovers. The tie to the whole women/quilting/sewing circle aspect. The amazing coincidence that many of them utilize high art aesthetic principles and were being made at the same time that Mark Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly etc. were ‘advancing’ the world of painting.

Gees Bend Quilts are so often perfect examples of modernism or minimalism. I might argue that they are in a way even better because of the authenticity with which they were made. Also, I can’t help but love that these women did what they did through following their own vision. The colors they used, the way they pieced them, the way they BROKE THE RULES of quilting with their odd shaped pieces and imperfect seams is so inspiring to me.


So there you have it. Five pieces/people/movements that I continually turn to for inspiration and guidance. Whenever I feel blah about art/making I can turn to them and feel reinvigorated.

For more information visit: www.lisasolomon.com or follow her on Instagram @lisasolomon.

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Saturday 24th, June 2017 / 14:06
Daniel

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