I'm so excited to host my dear friend, artist Lois Eliason who will be showing watercolors and photographs in my studio at Art-A-Whirl this coming weekend!
KJ: Lois, I’m so excited that you are going to be showing your photographs & watercolors in my studio during Art-A-Whirl! You have recently shown your photography/watercolor work for the first time at Showroom. Are these new media for you? Tell me why you’ve decided to branch out.
LE: I’ve loved art and making art my entire life. I was an English major and a Studio Arts minor in college. During my senior year, I focused my attention entirely on studio arts - and I took a lot of classes in drawing, printmaking, and photography. I continued to work in those mediums after college. Of course, all of that took a back seat when I decided to go for my graduate degree in Art History. I was so happy to re-engage with both photography and drawing/painting with more commitment last year when our family took trips to Central Mexico and London. I started taking a lot of photos and doing more drawings and posting them on social media, then Jen (from Showroom) asked if I’d be willing to show them...
KJ: What is your inspiration for this body of work? Is there a story behind it?
LE: For this body of work, it was all about local color and textures that were unique to the places we visited. Both places have such rich histories that are palpable just about everywhere you go. I have so many pictures of brick walls and wooden doors from Mexico, for example. You just can’t find walls or doors like that anywhere else in the world…
KJ: Tell me more about your watercolor work?
LE: Watercolor is a relatively new medium to me. I love that there is a kind of randomness and certain lack of control that’s inherent in producing a watercolor painting - which is a type of letting go for me. It’s really become one of my favorite places to be lately; that is, in my own little world, watching colors bleed together or run off in different directions.
KJ: Your day job is as a professor of Art History. What is your area of specialty? Do you find that teaching influences your creative work?
LE: Yes, by day I’m an Art History professor, and I love it. Along with being a maker, teaching is one of my greatest passions in life - I feel so fortunate I get to do both.
My area of specialty is in Italian Renaissance/Baroque arts from 1400-1700, but lately I’ve taught upper-division seminars in other areas such as Ancient, Medieval, and Modern art history .
I’m lucky that my teaching and art making intersect so nicely; they do so all the time.
KJ: So your teaching and art must also influence your designing, as you also own the accessories design company Post- (with co-owner Katie McShane).
LE: It absolutely does.
Post- was founded on the premise that the arts and history are vitally connected.
I’ve been designing a new collection of jewelry over the past year, and a lightbulb clicked for me recently during my Modern art class. We were discussing the contemporary artist, Shirin Neshat, and one of her pieces in particular was so moving and inspiring to me, that I couldn’t let it go. After rolling with it, I realized that Shirin’s piece was one of the lynchpins in helping me articulate my own ideas behind this new collection. Things were starting to come together with more coherence, and it was really exciting.
KJ: Talk to me about color and about the influence it has on you.
LE: As a visual person, I’m naturally attracted to color and composition.
And I definitely think color can be a way of monitoring mood, spirit, etc.
I love playing with deeply saturated colors - especially when I’m painting.
I’m definitely at a point in my life that I’m okay with exploring the moody qualities of color without getting too freaked out, and it’s really liberating.
In my early 20’s, I remember immersing myself in black and white photography for several years...I only wanted to see the world in black and white --- people, myself, things, etc. etc.
I did a whole series of photos on smoke against stark black backgrounds, for example....
I had no idea that color (or black/white) would play such an important part in defining and expressing myself; I think working in just black and white was a way to exercise control over my life - which of course, felt totally out of control.
Still, old habits die hard!
I can’t break away from black and/or white clothing…though in my defense, I also wear a lot of grey…
Follow Lois Eliason on Instagram.
Friday, May 20th - 5:00-10:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 21st - Noon-8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 22nd - Noon-5:00 p.m.
For more information about Art-A-Whirl, visit the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association website.