Lisa Wood by Genevieve Day
Q: Your works are born out of projects of personal exploration. Tell me about this.
Yes. Throughout my entire life, exploration into the unknown has fueled my sense of wonder which has fed the need to uncover meaning and beauty, the essence. To notice the lyrical, the perfection in something...anything...is moving.
I'm interested in seeking the persistent nature of aesthetic and poetry in a place and feeling the connection that present has with past and future, which is timelessness. When I am out somewhere, whether close to home or across the world, it’s in these moments that I’m connected with essence and curiosity/wonder/awe take center stage. This is the consciousness I want to carry around with me. My understanding and relationship with what is around me takes new direction and offers greater meaning.
Q: How about scale of your work?
There are a couple of aspects to this. Though my work is photo-based, I am exclusively focused on involvement and experience. In other words, whether I produce a framed work in a very large-scale edition of 1, or use light and projection, or a meandering collage as a means of presentation, the goal is to introduce my imagery in a way that encompasses the viewer, where their relationship to the work is elemental to the work.
Q: Susan Sontag in “On Photography” writes “Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality...One can't possess reality, one can possess images--one can't possess the present but one can possess the past.” Photography is a medium based on the preservation of a single moment. Are you attempting to document a changing landscape by freezing it in time?
In one sense, yes, given how rapidly our world is changing. At the heart of it though, is the concept of exploration and how it informs our habits (thinking, beliefs, biases) and interactions.
Q: Tell me a bit about growing up in Pittsburgh and any influence it may have had on your work.
I grew up in Pittsburgh during the 70’s and 80’s. I distinctly remember how pollution smelled on summer mornings. My father spent his career at US Steel; we only drove American cars. Pittsburgh was a cohesive, melting pot of a population, toughened by hardship, united through work and pride. I identify with the American ideals of work, perseverance and strength through hardship that shaped my hometown. This has influenced the way I interpret visual beauty. Somewhat unlike the conventional idea of it, I am preferential to a more straight-forward, stripped down approach and in this, I am connected to these ideals.
It seems that this city eventually inspired the move West to Idaho and it’s natural environment.
Yes, I wanted to live in a place where the natural environment dictated the way of life. Idaho is the perfect place for this. Our seasons are extreme. There is so much open space and protected wilderness, second most in the lower 48. However, my Pittsburgh roots continue to define my values and perspective.
Q: What drew you to work with photography as a medium?
I discovered I loved photography during the summer of 1989 when I moved freely between West and East Germany with my first DSLR. It was fascinating to notice through the lens, the contrast between one country split in two and separated by a wall for 45 years.
Q: What project are you working on now?
I recently returned from the red center of Australia for a study of the world’s largest vertical dune desert.
Q: What contemporary photo-based artists and non-photographers interest you?
Photo-based: Aaron Siskind, William Eggleston, Bernd and Hilla Becher. Other Artists: Cy Twombly, Joan Mitchell, Richard Serra, Agnes Martin, James Turrell, Mary Corse
Q: For the most part, your work is centered around nature and the landscape. What about this inspires you?
The quality of its candid, unwavering existence. Its timelessness and emptiness. Its unadorned beauty. Its authenticity.
Q: What is emptiness? How does it exist in nature?
I think of emptiness and wholeness as two sides of the same coin. Emptiness might have negative implications but in pure emptiness, there you will observe essence, where beauty and meaning reside. In today’s generally existential society, meaning is often sub-servant to the absurd, the anxious and alienating perspective. However, beauty and meaning exist without “us”; it was present before and will be present after we are gone. I’m captivated with the fundamental emptiness that natural spaces present. In the emptiness, I feel time, memory and the present moment colliding within a context of connectedness, wholeness.
Q: How do you decide where geographically to work within each series?
Locations that introduce a vastness and reveal little in the way of time are very appealing to me.
Q: Do you work on one series at a time? Or do you find that you discover additions to each series in new places?
Though my work is project and location based, I find that visual themes emerge that form and connect with prospective projects.
Q: They have a way of blurring scale so one must closely observe whether this is a macro or micro view.
We are servants to our habits of perception. William Blake points to this as he begins Auguries of Innocence with: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, And Eternity in an hour.”
I am fascinated with perception and habits of thinking, particularly mine. This comes back to exploration. It is important for me to shatter my own habitual thinking, to mix it up and to put myself in settings that challenge what I think I know. In this, there is this playful aspect that aligns with the sense of wonder.
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