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Art & Life with Erika Lizée

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erika Lizée.

Erika, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born in Chicago, Illinois, but raised among the lakes and trees of Northern Wisconsin. I always loved drawing, but discovered painting in my undergrad studies. I earned my BFA in Painting from UNC Asheville and an MFA in Painting from CSU Northridge. I am currently a tenured Professor of Art at Moorpark College, as well as the Director of the Moorpark College Art Gallery. Around 2014 my work transitioned from making graphite drawings on paper and acrylic paintings on canvas to creating site-specific installations using acrylic paint on Duralar. Since then I have created pieces within the International Terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), ArtShare LA, 643 Project Space, Launch LA, Gallery 825, The Palm Springs Fine Art Fair, and Vita Art Center. My work has been featured in various publications including Juxtapoz, Beautiful/Decay, HiFructose, The Huffington Post and Beautiful Bizarre magazines.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I create site-specific installations from the idea that gallery walls can serve as symbolic thresholds between life and death, between what is known and unknown, tangible and intangible. Mysterious, biomorphic elements exist beyond the surface, while other forms emerge into the physical realm of the viewer. Trompe l’oeil and sculptural acrylic paintings work in conjunction with actual light and shadow to spark a sense of wonder and uncertainty in the viewer. This combination of wonder and uncertainty stems from my worldview and a level of awareness that I seek to maintain in my life. I am continuously awed by the world around me, the unfathomable complexities of life and how even our perceptions of what is going on around us are so varied. It is just mind blowing. The uncertainty comes, in that so many of the answers we seek are unknowable. We want to have a greater understanding of and control over our circumstances, yet this is often an unattainable goal. Many people turn to faith as a source of comfort and certainty. Over the years I have come to a place of accepting the discomfort of not knowing.

These ideas are represented in my artwork as I build installations that spark a sense of wonder in the viewer, or elicit the question “What is that?” The work is beautiful and enticing, yet the viewer might not totally understand or even be sure what they are looking at. I, like many, am mesmerized by visual illusions. They are an important aspect of my work because they parallel my interest in questioning what is real. I appreciate works of art the most when they make me think and question. I tend to describe my imagery as “strange yet familiar.” In my studio I am often abstracting from nature and so the imagery reminds people of things, without being fully representational or real, which parallels much of the natural world. Phenomena that were once considered inexplicable or magical are continually redefined by scientific discovery. Creative and innovative thinking pushes the boundaries of what exists and what is accepted. The strange becomes familiar through the passage of time and the acquisition of knowledge. With this greater understanding, perceptions are altered. The collective consciousness expands, and paradigms shift as we begin to think about the world around us in new ways.

Making art for me is a way of investigating ideas, expressing feelings, exploring process, honing technical skills and connecting with people both in and outside of the art world. I seek to make work that pushes me technically, while using that technique in concert with imagination and possibility to provide viewers with a unique and engaging experience. I find the installation work to be particularly rewarding in that you are creating something that the viewer can become a part of. The work is more fully realized with the participation of the viewer, through their thoughts and perceptions of the experience.

Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
• Don’t be so hard on yourself. You don’t have to be “the best” (whatever that means) to be successful. Carve out who you are as an artist and be the best version of that. Also figure out what success means to you.

• Be determined, persistent. Keep making. Make art even when you don’t feel like it. Don’t wait around for inspiration.

• Be open-minded, towards people and opportunities.

• Artists are some of the most interesting and innovative thinkers on the planet. Embrace your clan and be supportive!

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I have created an installation inside Vita Art Center in Ventura, CA, which will be up during the month of March for the “Women on the Rise” exhibition in celebration of Women’s History Month.

People can support my work by following me on social media, but more importantly come and see the work in person if you can! Pictures and videos can only do so much. Visually my work changes depending on where you are in the room, so seeing it in person is very different than viewing a flat canvas piece.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Panic Studios LA

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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