Get to Know Lizz Jaff: One of NMWA's Women to Watch
Tell us about your path as an artist.
I was fortunate to grow up in New York and have access to a wide variety of creative spaces early on. As a teen I would sit in the classical galleries of the Metropolitan Museum and daydream with the figures of Athena and Aphrodite wondering about their draped and fragmented bodies and then walk on the Lower East Side and see brash and untamed art in the streets. Art meant infinite possibilities.
After high school I went to art school without really questioning if there was anything else to do. It made sense to me in natural way. I studied painting. After school I moved back to New York and started to work for other established artists and in galleries as a way to try to figure out how I might to navigate the art world at the time. I kept my own artistic practice rigorous but private.
With the exception of a few group shows, I worked quietly and diligently, teaching myself skills and making objects and environments about the poetry in my head. When I felt my personal language was more developed, people and galleries started to ask to see what I was doing and it has moved forward professionally since then. I still keep my studio practice quiet and controlled and focused.
How would you describe your style?
Formal ethereal immersive escapist.
What inspires you in your work?
Storytelling, poetry, film, architecture are important influences to how I make my work. I enjoy seeing how things are made and experimenting with materials. I am profoundly moved by Butoh and Flamenco performance.
There is something tenacious and remarkable in Diaspora culture, how art forms can develop maintaining the spirit of where it originates and continuing to thrive wherever people take their spirits and imaginations. Learning of acts of human resilience propel my desire to go forward. Problem solving, love and understanding relationships inspire me most.
What are some of your career highlights (so far)?
The first time someone said you can show what ever you want for an exhibition and they meant it. This can be a large leap of faith when you work with an artist who often makes site specific installations. Knowing someone supports, trusts and encourages your vision is always a highlight. Having this happen repeatedly has been an ongoing encouragement and gift.
Get to know more about Liz at the National Museum of Women in the Arts Women to Watch 2020 event on July 11th. The event will also include opening remarks from our very own Marianne Howatson.
You can also discover more about Liz Jaff here.