- Oklahoma Landscapes
- Mount Adams
- Grand Canyon
- Study Drawings (Cambodia)
- 24/24: A Project Space
- America 101
- 24 Portraits: Kamiyama
- Low Visibility
- OSU 25
- Allegheny 16
- 24/24: Mother Fools
- Pink and Green
- Kamiyama Nature Pilgrimage
- Cheeseburger Soup
Oil on Canvas, 2015
Oklahoma Landscapes is a series of representational oil paintings and prints depicting the pastoral beauty of the Oklahoma landscape -- punctuated by horizontal drilling wells, salt disposal wells and other physical evidence of our oil and gas industry. Some paintings are portraits of specific equipment. In essence, these paintings depict the equipment whose use induces seismicity. Oklahoma Landscapes serves to both answer and ask questions. It answers: what does this equipment that causing all the fuss look like? And, by being nestled so beautifully amidst the landscape, it asks, why is it so easy to not see these objects in the landscape? Why is it easy to ignore a small thing that causes huge problems? Saltwater disposal wells are easily overlooked spindly bits of piping. It is hard to believe that they cause as much damage as they do.
These works are philosophical contemplations about relationship between looking and seeing. Certainly we all see the nostalgic charm of machinery in the landscape. But what does all this equipment actually do? What does it actually mean?
Oil on Canvas, 2015
These paintings were created for an exhibit co-sponsored by the Columbia Art Center (hood River, OR) and the Forest Service in honor of the 50-year anniversary of the Federal Wilderness Act. I was selected to depict the Mt. Adams wilderness area.
These three paintings represent a way of considering the concept of wilderness. I am interested in exploring the idea of distance physically, visually and psychologically.
I began thinking about my relationship to the physical environment of wilderness and the distance most of us have from it. We are far from living in wilderness, yet we long for it. As a city dweller I am immersed in man-made infrastructure and comforts. The idea of wilderness is speaks to an earlier time when humans were more intimately and directly connected to animals, plants, water, and life cycles for survival.
I noticed how experiencing wilderness and viewing landscape shifted depending on where I was. I was selected to depict Mt. Adams. I was surprised to notice that the closer I was to the mountain, the less I could see of it. I suppose this is obvious, but it was strange to be on Mt Adams above the tree line and realize I was not seeing Mt Adams – instead, I saw excellent scenic views of Mt. Hood.
While hiking, I focused upon the details of nature –a glimpse of an animal, an interesting fallen tree, flowers and insects. This didn’t conform to my naïve expectations of scenic vistas opening up at every turn on the hiking trail. I experienced the wilderness not a wide expanse of space but at a scale I could not take in because the mountain- the wilderness is so much larger and enveloping.
These three paintings represent different physical distances from Mt. Adams. Rushing Water depicts a close-up view of a stream in the forest. Reflected View shows Mt Adams partly visible and partly obscured by trees, the image doubled through a water reflection. Finally, Sky is a view of Mt. Adams in a celestial scene of billowing clouds.
The paintings explore visual or pictorial distance by mimicking the sweeping movement from looking down on a trail while walking, to seeing a scenic view ahead and finally to looking up and considering the mountain as quite small against the endlessness of the sky.
Each painting embodies a psychological experience of the wilderness. They provide a way to organize and understand our place in the world, experience the wonder of complexity and scale and way to connect us to the sublime, the unknowable and transcendent.
Paintings and Drawings, 2011
I am interested in the ways that the experience of looking at a place through the lens of a camera differs substantially from the experience of looking at a place optically. It has been my experience that paintings and drawings from life of panoramic vistas are surprisingly unrelated to photographic images. In the Summer of 2011, I was the artist-in-residence for the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. While I was there, I took many photographs, sketched, and made several sustained drawings, the most significant of which is Powell Point (Drawing).
My original purpose was to comment on tourism, and how the advent of inexpensive, point-and-shoot digital cameras results both in pleasurable images, and (avoidable) visual overload. In virtually all tourist locations, most people replace the pleasurable and time-consuming activity of looking, with the instantaneous and usually thoughtless experience of rapidly snapping photographs. I’ve noticed many people click their cameras without even consulting the camera’s viewfinder. I wanted to slow down the pace of seeing, and encourage people to re-experience the pleasures of sustained looking.
I picked a well-trafficked spot, so that I could ensure contact with visitors. I had many great conversations with visitors, who, more often than not, would exclaim “Gee, I never would have noticed that unless you were drawing it and told me about it.” What I discovered during that residency was that it’s not just the performance of photography at a tourist location that is problematic – rather the greater problem for the careful observer is the unexpected inability of photography to really convey a panoramic experience. These oil paintings of the canyon are based on my sketches, drawings, and photographs. I would not have been able to create them from my photographs alone: I needed to be in the place physically observing and drawing in order to create these paintings. I intend these paintings to convey a sense of place and space that photography can not.
The following three residencies provided me with the time and space to complete these works: the Grand Canyon Artist in Residence Program, Ucross (in Ucross, Wyoming) and Playa (in Summer Lake, Oregon). These places made it possible for me to create these paintings.
Study Drawings (Cambodia)
Study drawings in anticipation of a trip, 2012
These are study drawings I made in anticipation of a February 2013 month-long trip to Cambodia. For me, drawing is good way to learn. My purpose was to have some knowledge of the Khmer temples and archeology before I arrived in Cambodia. Most of the drawings are based on photographic references in books. A few (SAAM Vishnu, and another vishnu) were drawn directly from objects owned by the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM).
None of these drawings are for sale – they simply represent part of my working process as an artist.
24/24: A Project Space
Paint, video, performance, 2012
This project is one of many painting-an-hour projects, like OSU 25, KAIR 2008, and 24/24: Mother Fools, whose purpose is to demystify art. Here, I painted a portrait an hour during two consecutive twelve-hour days from 12 noon to 12 midnight. The entire performance was time-lapse recorded. A sample of the video is available.
This painting performance was conducted at A Project Space in Seattle, Washington.
Painting installation in 101 parts
Nature, that is the physical world that surrounds us, is an overwhelming concept for us as humans, especially because we are so physically small compared with our surroundings. In our contemporary world, we contain nature in many ways, one of which is to collect and enjoy disposable, mass-produced consumer goods that are scaled to us as humans. We allow ourselves to be seduced by these seeming necessities even as we environmentally ruin the majesty of our surroundings to create them.
This piece is a contemporary critique of our uneasy relationship with nature – the project demonstrates our attempts to ignore what is large at the same time we focus attention on small impermanent disposables. There are 100 very small (3” x 5” x 4”) oil paintings of the natural beauty of the United States, as represented by landscape paintings from all 50 states. For this project, the I visited all 50 states and created paintings from photographs and drawings created in each state. These landscapes are painted on box-like wooded structures to have the uniformity of a mass-produced commodity.
These small paintings are contrasted by a billboard-sized image of a common disposable commodity – the single-use, disposable water bottle. A ubiquitous commodity in a nation with pure drinking water at almost every tap, the very creation of the plastic water bottle takes three to six liters of water. Plastic bottles are a serious disposal issue in landfills, and it’s estimated a quarter of the bottle’s volume in oil is required for manufacturing bringing any given bottle to market. As I visited each state, and found landscape vistas, the sense that these areas would eventually be chocked with landfill was omnipresent.
The selection of a water bottle also speaks to necessity of most forms of life – which includes the flora we find so attractive -- requiring water to survive. There is irony in the fact that all places we go for natural beauty are dependent on this water (as snow, lakes, oceans, foliage, etc. etc.) that we are so thoughtlessly wasting.
24 Portraits: Kamiyama
Painting Performance, 2008
24 Portraits: Kamiyama is a series of 24 portraits painted over the course of three consecutive days in Kamiyama, Japan. Kamiyama is a small town nestled in the mountains of rural Japan on the island of Shikoku. The nearest city is Tokushima.
Each oil painted portrait was completed in an hour or less. As with her other portrait projects, the goal was to take art out of a rarefied context and into daily life. There being no 24-hour venues in Kamiyama, the painting performance occurred at three popular Kamiyama locations on three consecutive days. The completed paintings were installed at Kamiyama's Kaizen Center, and Liz gave a Gallery Talk there on September 7th, 2008.
About the Venues:
The first 6 portraits were painted at Hidenoya, a popular local (Japanese-style) diner.
The next 9 were painted at the Michi-no-Eki, which is a rest stop. The rest stop is a hub of Kamiyama activist, as it comprises a farmer's market, a noodle shop, a tiny ice cream parlor, and local handicrafts and prepared foods.
The final 9 portraits were painted at Matsuba-An, a local cafe.
Photography from the road, 2008
Low visibility is a series of photographs that were taken during my extensive cross-country travels gathering images for America 101. For the America 101 paintings, I took photographs that I could paint from which were sharp, specific to each state, and generally colorful.
While I was driving, I often encountered rainstorms, fog, haziness and snowstorms, which made the view of the road and the surroundings very subtle and hard to distinguish. It was the opposite of the images I sought for America 101. But these atmospheric scenes were very beautiful and mysterious, and became some of my favorite photographs. I have collected the most evocative of these photos and titled them Low Visibility.
The images on the web are from my digital photographs. As physical art objects, they are Ultrachrome pigment inkjet prints, archivally printed by Custom Digital in Seattle.
Painting, Video, Performance, 2007
For OSU 25, I painted 25 volunteers over a three day period who had a connection with OSU, as my commemoration of Oklahoma’s centennial.
I solicited any one with any connection to OSU (current or former: students, staff members, faculty members, administrators). The volunteers consented to be video taped, and some footage from this had made it into ART 365: The Documentary (2008), a feature-length documentary about 6 Oklahoma Artists. This documentary has been accepted into a number of national and international film festivals, and has been screened at a number of art museums. I have also completed a 28 minute video, called OSU 25, which is a time lapse video of this project.
This project is one of many painting-an-hour projects, like KAIR 2008, and 24/24, whose purpose is to demystify art.
These models names are listed under acknowledgments, along with their OSU affiliations at the time that they graciously agreed to participate in the project.
Painting Performance in Allegheny, PA, 2007
Allegheny 16 is a series of 16 portraits painted over the course of two consecutive days at Allegheny College's Megahan Gallery, in Meadville, Pennsylvania. The resultant exhibit was called Liz Roth: Live Portraits. The painting coincided with Allegheny's annual Eight Hour Projects show, in the adjoining gallery.
Each oil painted portrait was completed in an hour or less. Students, staff members, faculty and other members of the Allegheny College community participated as models.
24/24: Mother Fools
Painting, Video, Performance, 2004
"Mother Fools: 24 Paintings In 24 Hours" celebrated 2004’s National TV Turn Off Week. Mother Fools, a Madison, WI coffee house/music venue/art gallery celebrated this event by keeping its doors open all day and all night for the duration of Turn Off Week.
For one 24 hour period of time during the week, I painted a portraits of any cafe patron who agreed to sit for one: the portraits took about an hour each to paint and the performance was time-lapse
Pink and Green
A painting installation in Japan, 2003
Nature, that is the physical world that surrounds us, is an overwhelming concept for us as humans, especially because we are so physically small compared with our surroundings. In our contemporary world, we contain nature in many ways, one of which is to collect and enjoy inexpensive, mass-produced consumer goods that are scaled to us as humans: electronics, toys, etc. We allow ourselves to be seduced by these cute, small, man-made objects even as we environmentally ruin the majesty of our surroundings to create them.
This piece is a contemporary critique of our uneasy relationship with nature -- the project demonstrates our attempts to contain what is large at the same time we focus attention on small, man-made objects. There are 36 very small oil paintings of the natural beauty of Kamiyama (the number refers to Hokusai's 36 views of Mount Fuji), which is contrasted with a mural-sized painting of a plastic-encased, Hello Kitty cell phone toy. The small oil paintings were, for the most part, created on site, outdoors.
The scale of the painting of a consumer good dwarfs the small, commodity-like size of the Kamiyama nature scenes, allowing the viewer to question her or his views regarding nature and commodities.
This piece was created in response to a request for art proposals regarding the contemporary relationship of man and nature. Of 195 international proposals, four artists were selected by the Kamiyama Artists-in-Residence program to fly to Kamiyama, Japan and create and install the works. This is one of two major projects I completed during the 7-week residency in Fall 2003. The other one is the Kamiyama Nature Pilgrimage.
Kamiyama Nature Pilgrimage
A participatory, outdoor, printmaking project in Japan, 2003
Humans seem to have a need to have their experiences confirmed - often through writing (diplomas conferring the experience of education, for example), or the visual record (particularly photography).
In Kamiyama, Japan, Buddhist pilgrims flock to Shosan-ji as part of the island of Shikoku's 88-mile Kobo Daishi pilgrimage. Some pilgrims spend two months walking the arduous 1,023-mile circuit, while others take one-week bus tours. At Shosan-ji (temple #12 of the circuit), I have observed pilgrims videotaping, photographing and collecting temple stamps (called hanko) and priestly calligraphy as evidence of their pilgrimage.
The collecting of hanko - rubber stamp impressions - in blank accordion books made precisely for this purpose is something of a national hobby in Japan. Hanko can be collected from secular sources (town halls, museums, tourist destinations, roadside rest stops) as well as religious sites, and the designs range from utilitarian to sublime.
Of course, no piece of hanko or calligraphy can truly describe a spiritual experience any more than a diploma can "prove" that a person has had the transformational experience of learning. These pieces of paper function as illusions, or possibly symbols, of authentic experience. Yet, we easily confuse symbols with experience.
The Kamiyama nature pilgrimage points out the illusory nature of documentation by depicting, in hanko format, transitory natural phenomenon such as the sound of water and the weight of ripe persimmons bending their branches. I drew a series of designs based on Kamiyama's natural (but transitory) beauty, which were then commercially prepared into rubber stamps.
Kamiyama artists Toshiharu Kusunoki and Masaki Mori collaborated on this project by creating all-weather wooden hutches (based on my drawn designs), which have been placed around Kamiyama. An ink pad, and one of the seven rubber stamps has been placed in each hutch. Viewers receive blank books (reminiscent of the specially made blank books for hanko) and a map from a central location, and are invited to visit the hutches to experience their own nature pilgrimage and stamp their books. The books have spaces for each stamp, and a bilingual description of the project.
Through the physical act of collecting hanko, viewers are confronted with the pleasure of collecting a beautiful stamp to capture a moment, while realizing that the event depicted on the stamp (appreciating the color of a field of rice, for example) is not necessarily the one that they might find most poignant about the day. It allows people to recognize that attempting to truly capture and document something transitory is a human fallacy.
This piece was created in response to a request for art proposals regarding the contemporary relationship of man and nature. Of 195 international proposals, four artists were selected by the Kamiyama Artists-in-Residence program to fly to Kamiyama, Japan and create and install the works. This is one of two major projects I completed during the 7-week residency in Fall 2003. The other one is Pink and Green: 36 Views of Kamiyama.
Etchings from "Cheeseburger Soup," an artist book, 2003
You can't choose your family, and for the most part, you can't choose your coworkers either. Who are these people with whom we spend more time with than members of our own family?
Cheeseburger Soup seeks to answer these questions about a group of Wisconsin Department of Transportation civil servants. The project is comprised of oil paintings, an editioned suite of chine collé etchings, and an editioned artists' book with portraits and pointed written descriptions that describe co-workers everywhere ("36 days to retirement," or "Fired. Excessively competent.") The title refers to a regional dish served at the Wisconsin DOT cafeteria, and was chosen for the title because it seemed an unlikely collection of ingredients forced to function together.
Small Watercolors, various years
I carry my travel watercolor set on airplanes, and when I chance upon a Skymall catalog, I will often make a watercolor postcard for a friend.