"There is something important about allowing myself to slow down and notice the relationships between the forms that I see every day. "
I am excited to introduce you to one of my favorite Twin Cities-based artists, Liz Lang. I religiously follow her Instagram page to catch her sketchbook posts. There’s something about how she uses line and shape that draws me in! Pun intended!
Liz grew up amongst the wheat fields in Western Nebraska. Being from a generational farming family, she was raised to love the land and developed a deep fascination with the way it is divided for the various crops. Her mother was an educator with a minor in art history. This allowed art to be a major foundation in Lang’s childhood. She went on to develop her visual language by minoring in set design and receiving a Bachelor’s of Science in interior design from Colorado State University. Although she enjoyed the scale and projects of these subjects, Lang couldn’t shake her own creative point of view. This eventually led her to complete the post-baccalaureate in studio arts program at Minneapolis College of Art and Design where she was able to participate and eventually be a teacher’s assistant for the Women’s Art Institute.
Currently, Lang is a gallery assistant for a local commercial art gallery. She maintains her studio practice in an artist loft in St Paul, MN.
Please read the interview and admire on! You’re going to love Liz, too!
Jes: Hi Liz! Thanks for being part of this interview series. The first thing I want to ask you about is your sketchbook project. I love your sketchbook posts on Instagram! I even looked back at your #lizlangsketchbookproject hashtag to see what your first post was! Why make your sketchbook into a project? Does your sketchbook follow you everywhere? Do you sketch every day?
Liz: I made my sketchbook into a project as a reaction to the language of Instagram. I am fascinated with the ability of creating a digital album that is inherently visual through the use of language.
Yes, I carry a sketchbook with me everywhere and sketch every day. I currently have two; one that is dedicated to the hashtag (topical) and one that is more fluid. This habit was formed during my undergraduate studies (1999-2003), and I find it is the purest form of seeing. There is something important about allowing myself to slow down and notice the relationships between the forms that I see every day.
One thing I also love on your Instagram are the abstracted photos from your daily life. Like things on the sidewalk or industrial building windows. The way that you see and frame them, I notice in the photos similarities found in your original art...I can see that line and shape inspires you. So, what is it about the line and the shape that draws you in? Or stops you in your tracks?
Good question! I suppose the best way for me to answer it would be to talk about two deeper truths that provide anchors for my art. Firstly, I have discovered that Instagram fits best into my life as an extension of my studio practice. For me this means I use it mostly as a way to showcase how I move through my corner of the universe by providing access to the things I see. My belief is that it is the artist’s job to show people how to see, what to see and what to notice. I am most interested in developing these access points to patterns and relationships. Secondly, it is within the nuance of living that we build a life. The same route or the same path can be traveled by two different people and there will always be two perspectives/experiences. Even though we are all contained in an identifiable form, we will never be filled with the same energy.
I know you also keep an art studio. What is your studio practice like?
My studio practice is integrated into my daily life through my sketchbook. Because I live in St. Paul and work in Minneapolis, I take the light rail and will sketch on the train during my commutes. Additionally, I have a part-time job which allows me to have one full day dedicated to my physical studio during the work week. Since my studio is a home studio, I find myself wandering in and out of my space everyday depending upon my other obligations.
I understand that you moved to St. Paul from Denver a couple of years ago. As an artist, what has been the transition like for you? Why Minnesota? Also, what was the art community like in Denver?
I’ve lived in Minnesota before, so this move was a “coming back” of sorts. Truth be told, I was anxious about calling MN home again because Denver folks are expansive and energized in a way that is tough to compete with. I think this stems from the fact that everyone there seems to be from somewhere else. The Denver community is built on a vision, where I find community here is rooted in past connections and can take longer to find. However, this time around I have found that Instagram has played an integral part in forming lovely connections. Additionally, I live at one of the artists’ lofts where there is a strong community mindset built in.
Another reason to be in an artist in Minnesota is because of the strong funding and support we have here. It is such a valuable resource and something I do not take for granted.
How have you developed your career over the years? What kind of resources have you used?
My career is in a constant state of development. This year was about forming a consistent studio practice while developing my voice. I have utilized Springboard for the Arts, MPLSart.com and other publications / writings / books to create habits. My plans for the next year/decade are to show more of my work publicly by mounting shows.
What artists do you admire?
Mark Bradford, Robert Rauschenberg, Rachel Whiteread and Carolyn Swiszcz
I love Carolyn Swiszcz too! I subscribe to Zebra Cat Zebra. Her most recent zine about her exercise teacher at the YMCA is amazing! Liz, do you have anything else you would like to share?
I suppose my last parting thought is to give yourself permission to show up. Show up for yourself in your studio, pay attention to what excites you, ignite your curiosities, and chase out your thoughts onto paper.
Excellent words! I can get behind all of that. Thanks, Liz!
Images courtesy of the artist.
Artists I Admire is a series of interviews with artists I think highly of.