Statement from MFA thesis show built in (April 2019):
These works are based on the premise that the home is an extension of the body, and that we have subconscious physical and psychological connections to our built environment. Fixtures like sinks, bathtubs and heaters reference the body explicitly because they serve basic biological needs. They are often overlooked. It is this invisibility combined with their familiarity and intimate nature that gives them power. I abstract these built-in fixtures to explore themes of time, memory, emotion, the body, and entropy. The imagery that I reference is drawn from personal experiences in the mid-century homes of my family members.
In addition to built-in fixtures I am drawn to the unseen spaces of the home. Concealed subspaces under floors and inside walls are time capsules. Their exposure suggests bringing what is hidden or forgotten to light. We have a visceral understanding of these spaces as mysterious and filled with the unknown. I evoke them by stripping down architectural elements to skeletal wood frames.
Materiality is an important component of these works. Douglas fir is used in the frames to reference its actual use in the building trade. Objects that are typically made from metal or porcelain are carved from basswood, giving them warmth. Handmade textiles represent time and labor condensed into fragile renderings of things that are usually durable, such as vinyl flooring. Textiles serve as a link between the body and architecture. As our most primitive bodily protection, we have an instinctual understanding of them as comforting. The softness of cloth echoes the fragility of our own bodies.
Water is used, and also suggested through other materials, to imply an underlying source. We understand it on a cellular level as a vital need. We use it ritually to maintain our bodies and homes through washing. It is a symbol, across many cultures and religions, of dissolution, regeneration, and rebirth. In the words of religious historian Mircia Eliade, water “represents the whole of potentiality.” In Jungian psychology water symbolizes the subconscious.
I intend for these works to trigger emotional responses and to elicit a sense of quietness and uncanniness that is understood through the body. I use material shifts and alterations of space and color to arouse feelings of disorientation, possibility, and openness. I seek to create moments when vulnerability feels simultaneously unsettling and peaceful. Where one might dwell in groundlessness.
Built in refers to the mid-century design trend of built-in appliances and fixtures that created streamlined, efficient interiors. It also refers to the emotions and memories that become built in to our experiences of home. Ultimately, it points to the inherent susceptibility of our bodies and environments in the face of entropy, the force driving decay and degradation but also life and growth.
Liz grew up in Iowa City, Iowa and earned a BFA from California College of the Arts in 2009. In 2014 she completed a two-year Core Fellowship at Penland School of Crafts and in 2016 a one-year Fine Art/Craft Fellowship at Warren Wilson College. She is currently pursuing an MFA in the Woodworking/Furniture Design program at San Diego State University.