Interview by Virginia Broersma
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the studio of Lisa C Soto at the Beacon Arts Building. She is preparing for her upcoming solo show at the Reginald Ingraham Gallery in Los Angeles and I spoke with her about her work and thoughts behind what she refers to as “drawings in space”.
Virginia Broersma: You’ve used words such as interstellar, constellation, cartography and topography in the titles of your pieces…
Lisa C Soto: …and “Beyond the 11th Dimension” …
VB: ….yes – and you also dip into physics when talking about your work. Could you talk about how science fits into your work and process?
LS: All the work from the past four to five years has been dealing with, like you said, cartography, map making and now it’s going into a more galactic, visual landscape. The theme behind the work is referencing science in the sense that I am trying to have a conversation about the idea that everything is connected. I think about Superstring Theory and the Theory of Everything – the idea that Einstein was trying to come to, a very simple scientific equation that would equal everything; the answer to everything that exists and how and why it’s connected.
VB: In dealing with cartography some of your works are more literal than others, like you have some actual types of maps such as the stick charts.
LS: Yes, I have the one series, “Beyond the 11th Dimension,” which comes from creating abstracted versions of stick charts, which were ancient Polynesian maps. Then I’ve used them as stencils to create these “spray paint drawings”. I refer to these finished works as “Beyond the 11th Dimension” because I see them as maps to the dimensions beyond the eleven that scientists have theories on. There’s also a theory that there are twenty-four dimensions, and another theory that there are infinity of dimensions, and so it’s referencing and having a conversation about this.
VB: Many of your pieces require labor intensive, detailed handiwork on individual units that will then combine to form a larger configuration, which may vary depending on where it is located. How do you see the process of making the individual units, then the act of combining those units into the installation and then the final presentation of the piece relating to one another? Is one part of the process more significant than the others?
LS: It’s definitely a step by step process. Sometimes I see the whole piece finished already and it’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it. Other times I know the process that I want to do and the materials I want to put together, but I’m not quite sure what the final outcome will look like. I generally have a process of taking small objects, little things, and putting them together to create a very large thing. Some of my installations seem to be somewhat chaotic, but there is definitely order in the chaos.
VB: You started to describe making the small components of the work that then become the larger piece, could you talk about the process some more, specifically in relation to the installation you will be creating for your upcoming show at Reginald Ingraham Gallery?
LS: Well this installation will be an interesting a kind of “peek-a-boo”, you will see the installation through a long horizontal slot in the wall; therefore you will not be entering the installation like you normally would with my work. This particular installation is called “Aranea Constellations” and it is made up of small hand-cut pieces of Mylar, that have been sewn onto a long line. The pieces of Mylar can be seen as little bytes of information. I criss-cross these lines between walls, ceilings, floors and they start to cross the space. It looks like there is a network of information intersecting, something like the world wide web, so it has this kind of web-like quality to it. That piece is based on systems of communication.
VB: What is the most difficult part of the process for you?
LS: Patience is one. It really drives me to lose my patience and I have to come back to myself very quickly.
VB: What do you mean come back to yourself?
LS: Well, I just want to walk away from the materials I use, such as wire or thread that easily tangle and seem to have a mind of their own and work on canvas, which is easy to install instead of creating these complicated installations. And I have to come back to myself and say, “OK- I can do this, this is what I do and I am doing it this way for a reason.”
VB: What is your favorite part of the process?
LS: When I’m finished. (laughs)
VB: And you’re completely done?
LS: The first moment when I know that particular piece is finished. But also right in the middle of making a piece, when I am in a groove and there seems to be no end in sight. There is something meditative and hypnotic about my process because it’s very repetitive. Whether it’s taking wire and creating knots, or sewing knots and bits of Mylar onto a line – it’s like chanting in silence.
Lisa’s work can be seen at www.lisacsoto.com and her exhibition will be on view at the Reginald Ingraham Gallery from April 6,2013 through May 11, 2013.