Lisa Wood by Genevieve Day
Q: For the most part, your work is centered on nature and the landscape. What about this inspires you?
I’ve been contemplating the earth’s geologic history and the Anthropocene through the investigation of wild spaces as a visual artist. Given the velocity of change occurring at the earth’s surface, I’m drawn to the candid and delicate existence of wild land; its timelessness and emptiness, its unadorned beauty and authenticity, its role in our wellness and the health of the planet.
Q: What is emptiness? How does it exist in nature?
I view emptiness and wholeness as two sides of the same coin. In pure emptiness, there is essence, where beauty and meaning reside together. In today’s generally existential society, meaning is often sub-servant to the absurd, the anxious and alienating perspective. Beauty and meaning exist without “us”; it was present before and will be present after we are gone. I’m captivated by the fundamental emptiness that vast, natural spaces present. In the emptiness, I feel time, memory and the present moment colliding within a context of connectedness, and wholeness.
Q: 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?
This is true with Surface Surveys as it is a record of the planet’s natural, essential physical expression, an expression unhindered yet dominated by mankind. The surveys highlight the contrasts between wild and unprotected lands in our current, anthropocentric age. I am interested in natural abstraction and photography as one element used to convey an idea.
Q: Why is color important to you? I don't know exactly, only that it's always been central in my life. I grew up with frequent migraines from a very young age that would debilitate me for whole days. The only way I could handle the pain was through color visualization. If I could change my color field from orange/red into blue/green, I could beat the migraine. I spent hours willing and waiting for the colors to change.
Q: Tell me a bit about growing up in Pittsburgh and the influence it had on your work.
I grew up in industrial Pittsburgh in the 70’s and 80’s and still remember the smell of pollution on summer mornings. My father spent his career at US Steel and we only drove American cars. It was a city proud of its blue collar and melting pot constituents and still is. Growing up and experiencing life through the “lens” of industry, while being introduced to the idea of exotic places, catalyzed an internal need to go out and explore and experience natural spaces. By mid-20’s, I was irrevocably drawn to parts unknown, particularly open, vast, remote places.
Q: It seems that this city eventually inspired the move West to Idaho and its protected environment.
Yes, I drove to Idaho in ‘92, where I have been for the past almost 30 years, surrounded by the one of the largest areas of protected, wild lands in the lower 48. I wanted to live in a place where the natural environment dictated the way of life and where one could really sense the physiography of the place. Idaho checks all boxes. Our seasons are distinct. Five mountain ranges surround our town, with a river running through it. We have the nation’s only Dark Sky Preserve, and if you drive 10 minutes in any direction from town, you’re in the backcountry.
Q: How about scale of your work?
I make works in large-scale with the intention of enveloping and transporting the viewer to that place/space/moment.
Q: How do you decide where geographically to work within each series?
I love and seek out protected, natural locations that introduce a vastness, and reveal little in the way of time.
Q: Who are your biggest influences?
· I love Richard Long’s walks, land interventions, and writings. I have immense admiration for Ursula von Rydingsvard and her work as a sculptor. Her work evokes incredible emotion. I love Clyfford Still's paintings, and his strict adherence to the ideals he believed in.