Lisa SolomonOakland, CA
Born to a Japanese mother and a Caucasian American father, hybridization is at the root of my art making. I am quite intrigued by the fusing of elements that may at first glance appear to be unrelated. I also am drawn to found objects – altering them conceptually so that their meanings and original uses or intents are re-purposed. I like when seemingly disparate things are amalgamated i.e.: doilies “monumentalized” on a wall, tanks made of bright felt generating pretty patterns, sewing onto paper, environmental toxins molecularly rendered in doilies, sewing without thread (the act of mending with out its mending capabilities), the back side of embroidery shown as the front, etc.
I am interested in gender identity – what are the parameters we use to place and name things within a masculine or a feminine sphere? What occurs when triggers and cues are misplaced purposefully confusing our vision?
I consider the differences and contrasts between hand made and machine made. How culturally the positions of their desirability have flipped flopped over time. How things generated in a time consuming hand made manner blend with the ideas of work ethic, and work that never gets done. What happens when you pair something that’s obviously machine manufactured with an element that is obviously hand crafted?
I am intrinsically interested in pattern and repetitive behaviors. How recurring imagery can alter our view of something… re-framing and re-purposing it.
I am also interested in history and references. How do we re-interpret the past? How do we generate new paradigms and belief systems? What are the historical references that shape me as an artist, a woman, a mother?
I am often drawn to objects and images of childhood and things that read as nostalgic. This is partially because I am intrigued by their narrative nature, but also because I sincerely believe that your fundamental ideals, morals, ethics, and societatal roles are all formulated during childhood – do you resist that? Acknowledge it? Embrace it in order to subvert it? Is childhood the cornerstone of innocence? Isn’t childhood also full of awkwardness? Is it as we age that our youth takes on a sentimental, wistful, or bittersweet hue? If something has a nostalgic element to it how does that change your reaction to it? Nostalgia is a powerful emotion and as a society I believe we have a love/hate relationship with it. How can I re-interpret nostalgia? How can I use nostalgia as a lens to re-focus old and new ideas?
I like leaving long threads as a tribute to the process. They often make me think of memory, of the passage of time. I can use the thread to highlight and signify relationships, longings and desires. I love the fact that the threads become a random element – a tribute to process. They will never lay exactly the same way… there is always a possibility for change. I also gravitate toward the dimensionality of them. They instantly pull a drawing off of the wall and force something flat into space.
I labor within the framework of antiquated crafts to better understand and mend cultural and societal divides. I apply myself to humble household tasks (such sewing, mending, crochet) and then perform this task with an often-obsessive repetition until the functionality is stripped away and the work has metastasized into a beautiful, organic chaos. I attempt to generate a new product or “fabric” to use as a tool, rearranging the pieces to create larger, recognizable patterns and structures that question the true nature of order by the very sum of their parts.
To an end, I’m following in the traditions of the women in my family as a method to explore my own context in a modern world. For the generations that came before me, the tasks I use in my art practice may have been viewed as menial. However, I believe that by looking to the past for inspiration my own action of re-purposing these women’s time-honored techniques functions as the DNA of my own contemporary identity. I’m also questioning the notions surrounding ART & CRAFT – are they compatible? Linked? Interchangeable?
I think that my work is fundamentally tied to the practice of drawing. Mine are drawings that incorporate thread and wire, traditional painting materials, fabric and felt, walls, as well as paper and canvas. My “drawings” have seemingly found a place between 2-D and 3-D, shown on the wall, and yet concurrently existing and yearning to be off of it. In this tenuous position my work is, in many senses of the phrase, “between states.”
Born in Tucson AZ Lisa Solomon has spent most of her life in CA. She currently lives in Oakland with her husband, daughter, 2 dogs, 2 cats and many, many spools of thread. She earned a BA in Art Practice from UC Berkeley in 1995 & her MFA from Mills College in 2003. She is also the author of Knot Thread Stitch: Exploring Mixed Media & Embroidery, published in July 2012.
Profoundly interested in the idea of hybridization [sparked from her happa heritage], Solomon’s mixed media works revolve thematically around domesticity & masculine and feminine triggers. She is drawn to found objects, altering them conceptually so their meanings and original uses are re-purposed. She often fuses “wrong” things together – recontextualizing them, and incorporating materials that question the line between ART and CRAFT.
Her drawings and installations have been featured in national and international venues including: Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, Nicoletta Rusconi Gallery in Milan Italy, The San Jose Museum of Art, the Richmond Art Center in CA, and Koumi Machi Museum in the Nagano prefecture of Japan.
She regularly teaches Art at various colleges in the Bay Area –currently San Francisco State University. She has been awarded a grant from the Creative Capacity fund, a travel grant from the Komi Machi Museum, & the Eisner Prize for Excellence in Fine Arts. In 2010 she was commissioned to complete a site specific installation for Angles Gate – a non-profit in art space SoCal.