by Kimberly Thompson Panay | May 17, 2017
How long have you been making art in this style?
I’ve been making art for most of my life. I began ‘the family debris series’ about 10 years ago. While in the midst of purging my children’s old clothes and toys, I realized that many of the materials were non-biodegradable, destined to linger for decades or more in a land fill, or so laden with memories and family history that I should consider giving them ‘a second life’. As an artist, I love a challenge and I was excited at the prospect of re-imagining unconventional materials and using them as art making materials: components for 2d and 3d abstractions and narrative works. I’ve been enjoying that ever-changing adventure ever since. With 5 family member consumers, I’ve had a lot to work with. In the process, I’ve reconsidered and worked to reduce our footprint, to over time, consume and waste less and less.
Who are your influences?
My first influences were my parents, both artists. Growing up in a house filled with art supplies and artmaking appreciation and energy was the genesis of my drive to create and the joy of making. As I age, the list is long and grows constantly. Early influences: Klee, O’Keeffe, Nevelson, more recently: Mitchell, Bourgeois, Bontecou, Hesse, Pfaff, Apfelbaum, Drew, Kiefer, Bradford: Mark and Katherine, Hamilton, Abramović and on and on. In addition, I have a group of artist friends who I meet with regularly. These artists always offer valuable critique, support and inspiration.
Where do you create your work?
I make my work in multiple locations: primarily at my studio on Webster Street in Worcester, at the Blackstone Print Studio in the Sprinkler Factory in Worcester, and at my home and in my yard in Rutland. Basically, I make art everywhere I am. My studio is chock full of materials and storage is always an issue when you make large work. My home is a constant source of materials and the yard is the place to make much of the large public work for outdoor installation pieces.
Do you listen to music when working and if so, what type/who?
I listen to some music in my studio, especially when I want to move or dance, shake things up, get the blood moving. I have dance mixes from my kids and from the sounds I grew up on. But I also listen to a lot of audio books, the longer the better to suit my long studio hours, or podcasts, many of the Radiotopia selections. Much of my sculptural work involves repetitive building and I enjoy having my mind engaged with stories while doing that type of labor intensive work.
Do you have a favorite piece of art you’ve created or project you’ve worked on and why?
That’s a tough question. What first comes to mind are the six new family debris pieces that I made for Fitchburg Art Museum’s Fall 2016 Plastic Imagination Exhibition: all different, all plastic family debris, all worked on intensely for 5 months, a completely focused time with a clear mission! I also enjoyed the creation of ‘water rings’, an outdoor environmental sculpture created for the Art in the Park Exhibition in Worcester 2010. In preparation, I built a life size study in a pond near my home, installing the work by moving and walking through the shallow pond in waders and developing a love of the pond’s flora, fauna and the process. I then installed an expanded version, 57 individual pieces, in the Mere Ponds at Elm Park in Worcester. The installation captured the light and moved in the wind, transforming the surface, while inviting the visitor to pause and contemplate their surroundings. It was a long process from Rutland to Worcester, a labor of love that was satisfying and appreciated by a broad audience, truly accessible to all.
Check out Lisa's work in person at our Reclaimed Exhibition on view in our galleries from now until July 7.