Liza Lou is an American, female artist born in 1969. She attended San Francisco Art Institute and now lives in KwaZulu Natal South Africa as well as Los Angeles. Her work is arresting and engrossing.
Liza Lou specializes and is best known for sculptures and environments created entirely with beads initially applied with tweezers. She therefore could be grouped with artists such as Tara Donovan, Jean Shin or Tom Friedman who work with large amounts of inexpensive and non- classical art materials that emphasize the need for intense and repetitive processes. Looking at her work one is awed by their perfection, the immense amount of time and exacting effort required to make them yet, especially with her earlier works such as The Kitchen and Backyard, they recreate common, every day almost banal environments bling-ed up through the use of multicolored, multifaceted glass beads. They comment on craft and women, feminism and time. Somewhat a follow on to pop art. Slightly later works, such as Trailer are more unsettling or satirical about the world around us. Although the Kitchen – a room sized sculpture- represented five years of solo labor, other works have employed assistants and, since her partial move to South Africa, close work with Zulu artisans. The artist has commented that when she first started to work with beads she was told that it was not allowed. Her family at times bohemian later became born again fundamentalist Christians which may in part have been incorporated in the ambiguous melding of worlds.
Her works have included portraits of presidents, political consciousness raising sculptures dealing with violence and confinement such as Quick Cheap Overwhelming Victory, and Maximum Security or Security Fence, beautifully made and thought provoking sculptures such as Blanket, Book of Days, Cell, Continuous Mile, spiritual sculptures such as Book of Days Deny and Repress Kitchenette, Devotional, Gather.
A few figures- Homeostatis, Man, the Damned, The Heretic, The Worshiper, the Vessel, many with religious overtones or modeled after classical pieces are also a part of her work.
Since 2005, Liza Lou’s works seem to have moved away from creating environments to more tonal, paintings still made with beads but emphasize the repetitive process of the works creation and the materiality and social consciousness demonstrated in the works. She is currently developing a major art work and sustainable employment project with a woman’s prison in Belem, Brazil. Her philosophical focus is on helping women, identifying with the day to day mundane, unrecognized environments of women and their hand made work – craft- and elevating that to art.
Gallery representation is Lehman Maupin, Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, Goodman Gallery and White Cube.