Liz Wierzbicki [Interview]
Interview with Liz Wierzbicki
September 2019 Resident
“I work in video, performance and printmaking to create digital and physical collages. My process begins as an attempt to visualize a fleeting emotional state. The body and the sky are reoccurring visual elements I use to consider the material and immaterial self’s relationships to perceptual experiences. This digital residency showcases a series of collages where the body directly interacts with forms observed in the sky to echo the connections between emotions, the body, and perception.”
- Liz Wierzbicki”
MHM: How would you describe your work and process?
LW: My work always starts in a conceptual place. The materials and making methods come second. Currently I am interested in the mind body dilemma and this has really influenced how I make art. What is the relationship between thought and consciousness in the human mind and the brain as a part of the physical body? How does the matter of the brain affect or create thoughts, emotions or experiences? Are the mind and brain distinct entities? My recent work has come from processing these questions as I interact and engage with my own thoughts and experiences. I have found it useful to use happenings in the sky as imagery to express my findings.
MHM: How do you gather your imagery?
LW: I collect as much video and photo documentation I can of the sky, my environment and performances with green screen material. I keep these documentations in a digital library that I can pull from to collage with in videos and reference for other works.
MHM: Sunrise and sunset have a universal visual allure, offering immediate access to sublimity. What compels you to work with these phenomena, visually and conceptually?
LW: The sun rising and setting marks the beginning and end of the day. The movement of the sun is cyclical, it sheds light onto our surroundings, the sun is always there but our perception and experience of it changes as both it and we move. I relate this to how our mind functions: the birth of a new thought, reoccurring emotions, our perceptual experiences that depend on our placement and our surroundings. I also hope the universal allure of a sunset can help connect my viewers to my work.
I also personally associate watching the sunset or sunrise with a sense of calm and awareness. It is something that happens everyday but often I do not take the time to enjoy because of daily interruptions or demands. I think subconsciously I started working with these phenomena to give myself a concrete reason to chase sunsets and find that calm. An art practice for me is often about spending my time the way I really want to; free of the demands and restrictions that life can throw your way.
MHM: Are you more interested in the synthesis of nature with technology or the transformation of self with nature?
LW: The way technology is affecting and merging with nature is very interesting. I personally am more concerned with being aware and thoughtful of this evolution versus placing any morals on it: is it good or bad. I think about both how technology and nature transform the self and I engage with both while developing my work.
MHM: What are your opinions on the sensual in art? What role does sensuality play in your work?
LW: People often point out the sensuality in my work. Since art is the way I process the world and this often starts with my sensual, bodily experiences it makes sense that it comes off as such. I do not spend intentional energy creating this sensuality; I think it is more a product of my personality. Same as when people see my work as feminine. I identify with and embody feminine qualities so this will inevitably show up in my work whether I am trying to make any comment about it or not.
MHM: Do you consider your work to be healing or glimpses into the utopic?
LW: My art practice gives me a deeper understanding of myself and the environment around me. This can be very healing.
MHM: You reference meditation a lot in connection to your work. Does meditation play an important role in your life?
LW: The precursor to the above answer (deeper understanding) is awareness of yourself and your surroundings. This awareness and attention is a form of meditation to me.
MHM: Have you always been a new media artist? If no, what other kinds of work did you make?
LW: My background is very much rooted in printmaking and I still create prints and drawings when I want a break from staring at a screen. During graduate school I was eager to explore different mediums and became very interested in performance art. I used video to document my performative acts and this is how I began my interest in video as a medium itself.
MHM: How do you stay inspired in your creative process? Do you have any daily rituals, habits, books, films, podcasts, etc. that you are into?
LW: Engaging in new experiences informs and pushes my creative process. Whether it is traveling to a new place, going to a concert, or taking a new path while riding my bike around my neighborhood. My favorite creative habit is to break my everyday habits and routine.
MHM: Are you making plans for any new projects? What’s next in the studio?
LW: I am just completing a long year of deadlines from various commissions and exhibitions. I am really looking forward to a break to play in my studio without a specific project or pressure of a deadline. These breaks are typically when the most development and change happens in my work and I am very excited to see where it takes me.
More on Liz:
Liz Wierzbicki lives and works in Indianapolis, IN. She received her BA in Mathematics and Fine Art from Augustana College and her MFA in Visual Art from Herron School of Art and Design. She is a co-founder and the Program Director at Cat Head Press: Printshop and Artist Cooperative, with two locations in Indianapolis.