Artist Lizzy Waronker - Malibu Mag - April 2012

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Specializing in assemblage and installation work crafted from the urban detritus of yard sales, antique shops, roadsides, LA artist Lizzy Waronker's work transforms mundane oddments into cherished objects of beauty.

While much of LA's artscene relies on nepotism and seniority as a precursor to success, Waronker's vision and originality have struck a chord with many, defying her relatively short career.

Hailing from Old Saybrook, CT  she graduated from Macalester College with a major in anthropology and film-making and  has been sculpting since 2006.

Testament to her  works' quality, she was recently commissioned by musician Ben Lea to design the cover for his most recent album Deeper Into Dream, while Radiohead megastar Thom Yorke is also a keen fan, having bought several of her pieces at a show held at LA's Bleicher Gallery last year.

Whether it's a comment on consumer culture, personal reinvention or rebirth, analyzing  the appeal of Lizzy's  her work is a nebulous process. Though like all good art, its meaning is multi dimensional and a matter of interpretation

Of her key influences, Lizzy cites her main influence is Louise Bourgeois, and his room sized installations, though a range other ideas permeate her work, "Im into religious art, particularly Catholic reliquaries and Voudou shrines. I  also like the assemblages and mixed media paintings of Max Ernst. He captures an essence of mystery that I love."

 "I like the idea of peeking through cracks in the walls to spy on secret scenes inside.  My sculpture "Coney Island" plays with this idea of seeing the secret world of others, of not getting the complete story, and of drawing conclusions based on personal experience rather than the facts."

Lizzy says her work aims to "bring dreams, desires, and aspirations into the physical world." Adding, " I am attracted to the idea that the correct combination of items can create an energetic field that actually affect the world and the viewer.  I always try to bring a sense of this energy into my sculptures."

Waronker says her work is essentially assemblage,  though it borders other media. "At the moment, I have been exploring my assemblages through photography. ' This work, she says sees her making temporary sculptures and photographing them, as she did with the Ben Lee album cover.  "These sculptures are then destroyed and all that exists is the photograph (and the memory), she adds"

"In addition to my assemblages, I like to make temporary installations when I show in a gallery setting.  I like the viewer to feel as though they have walked inside one of my sculptures when they enter an exhibition.  I hope to give them a sense of wonder, like being a child who believes in magic."

For her newest works she's sourcing inspiration from the photographs of artists Hannah Wilke and Francesca Woodman.  "They explore feminist ideas and used their own bodies as a canvas.  They were courageous in their imagery which could be incredibly shocking."

"Other inspiration comes from nature and the effects of elements on untended man-made things, such as abandoned houses or cars.  I like to see the way these rot and meld the natural environment around them." 

Of the physical process involved in creating her assemblages, Lizzy says she spends anywhere between one and six months on a single piece. "It can take anywhere from three to twelve months to make a sculpture.  Once in a while, they come out very fast, say two weeks, or very slowly.  Horology took two years." The work in question takes shape from a cathedral shaped frame holding an antique padlock and covered with a shattered layer of glass. 

Other pieces use intricate placement of a variety of objects, from  toys to stuffed animals though to fragments of old letters, birds nests and shattered crockery.

Lizzy says she gathers material to construct her work via a fossicking process, with material collected at yard sales, antique shops, 'at the side of the road on garbage day. She adds,  "my favorite way to gather material is passively; every so often I arrive home to find a bottle of teeth on my doorstep, or a bag of bird's wings. " 

"Many people know I use these materials for art, and they are more than happy to donate the things from the backs of their closets.  It is very interesting to see what appears.  In addition to the above, I have been given a box of WWII correspondences between a husband and wife, a collection of feathered, velvet hats from the 1930s, many animal pelts, boxes of photographs, doll parts, clippings from haircuts, bottles of buttons and more."

Despite their apparent lack of significance and low value, Lizzy feels her materials belie depth and a meaning of their own. "I realized objects could be amazingly powerful on the energetic level after working in the archives of a natural history museum as a college student.  I was cataloguing native American artefacts that hadn't been handled in at least fifty years. "

"I very quickly became aware of, not only their beauty, but of their energy.  These items were so powerful that I actually got a little freaked out.  The anthropologist for whom I was working had to explain to me that feeling the energy (or seeing an actual ghost, as I did) was not unusual with ceremonial objects.  I've always been mesmerized by this idea and have always sought to bring this into my own work. " 

 Having shown in various Los Angeles galleries  since 2009,  she had her first solo show in May 2011 at Caporale Bleicher Gallery in Hollywood. She also shows  currently with Bleicher Gallery in West Hollywood.


Written by Craig Stephens

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