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Meet Lizy Dastin of Art and Seeking in West LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lizy Dastin.

Lizy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve been teaching various college art history courses for the last twelve years and come from an extremely traditional background in the material. After graduating from Christie’s Education with a degree in Connoisseurship and the History of the Art Market, I worked on curatorial projects at the Metropolitan Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art while working on my dissertation in a Ph.D. program. And I was miserable, insecure, anxious and have never felt further away from myself. For me, academia was a dysfunctional place fraught with so much pain and comical mishap that eventually my misery was so great that I dropped out, not knowing if I would ever find success or fulfillment in my field. I had to trust myself in that decision and stop letting myself be governed by other people’s expectations or by my own fear. The issue was how to sustain a living knowing I could never get hired as a tenure-track professor without a Ph.D. and being unwilling to give up the teaching I’ve always found fantastically rewarding. Art and Seeking was born in that terrifying, invigorating, transitional moment.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
If it were smooth it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting! “The hard is what makes it great.” My biggest personal challenge has been to really define where I fit in. I’m a street art enthusiast, a friend, a fan, a teacher but the terms of my role within the community took a while to come into focus.

Art and Seeking – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The foundation of Art and Seeking surrounds collapsing the space between the mainstream artworld and the dynamic margins of street art. Within this, I interview artists about their practice in the hopes of creating a permanent archive out of a space that’s fundamentally ephemeral. Additionally, I manage relationships between artists and building owners looking to enliven their walls, curate exhibitions, write articles and am in the process of writing a book about contemporary street art in Los Angeles that combines art historical context and analysis with behind the scenes access to the world.

Although the book won’t be published until the Fall, that’s what I’m most proud of since it feels like a way to honor my family. My grandfather was an incredibly talented novelist who had a remarkable gift for storytelling that he passed down to my mother. Telling stories through my teaching has always been the way I’ve connected to their lineage and having the opportunity to write a book is a humbling extension of that.

I think what distinguishes me from others in the field is the combination of my longstanding experience in academia, profound enthusiasm for art history–both renegade and traditional–and sheltered background that’s juxtaposed with a secret and strong renegade streak,

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
If I can encourage anybody to see the world even the slightest bit differently–suddenly noticing a sidewalk stencil on their way to work that they passed a hundred times before but never saw–that is a huge success. I want to elevate the way we talk about and understand street art and underscore that art–street or otherwise–does not have to be a rarefied experience and can be an integrated aspect of our everyday adventures.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Colette Miller, thrashbird, Padhia, Meg Zany

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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