Lisa Diane Wedgeworth: Abstract and Autobiographical
Written by Genie Davis
With a current body of work that is both abstract and resonate to the artist’s own life, Lisa Diane Wedgeworth says this work reflects an important decision – to be honest in her work, and “to allow myself to be and feel vulnerable. I’ve always been interested in relationships – how we engage with one another – so this was a natural theme to explore. I began with historical American narratives and began to move towards looking at my own relationships.”
The large and immersive monochromatic works’ personal component is nothing new for Wedgeworth, who describes her work as having always been personal because “they were about trauma and injustice towards black people which I feel emotionally because these things could have easily have happened to me,” she stresses. “Yet, the stories or the narratives were communal as they reverberated throughout our national experience. Now, I am looking inward.”
It may be that the art of the moment must, for a variety of reasons political, social, and personal, revolve around storytelling. I’ve found this to be the case in a wide of range of artists’ work in a variety of mediums. This is certainly true of Wedgeworth, a multi-disciplinary teaching artist who creates in mediums that include painting, digital video, and performance art.
“The stories that are most important are those that move you. And, those stories will be different for everyone. Well, my works are autobiographical and are informed by the time I make to be self-reflective. My intention is that the geometric shapes represent my body, the mark-making represents the psychological mapping of the experience imagined in the space of the painting and the painting itself becomes my body taking up space,” she says. “It is all autobiographical.”
Over time, the artist says her work has evolved to include performance art, which she uses to “tell stories and interpret memories that are best examined using my own body.”
The complexities of her mark-making are rich and dark, in part because of the mediums she employs. “I work with black acrylic paint, and will often include black oil paint. The making of my work is very performative, in that my entire body is engaged with the mark-making – I make my own tools – and yes, it can be very complex at times. I’m pretty exhausted afterward.”
A triangular shape appears frequently in her images. Asked its significance, Wedgeworth explains “What is significant is the predominant use of geometric shapes. All the shapes I use are significant and powerful. I’ve just made more triangle paintings because after – quite often during [the time] – I make a painting I see the next painting in my mind’s eye, and the triangle has been a constant.” She says she’s come to “really love” the triangle. “It is so versatile and interesting. What is important about a shape is how the sides and/or vertices relate to roles or statuses or feelings I have experienced.”
While geometric shapes are perhaps not usually considered emotional images, in Wentworth’s hands, they gain an intense power, bravery and energy, something she herself has expressed about her work. It’s strong enough that even when viewed virtually, the viewer can sense this. When asked whether textures, mediums, or the meaning behind her works causes this transference of energy, she deflects.
“I like to hear what others have to say when they engage with the work. I’d prefer to know why you think you feel that energy. I think it has to do with the rich values of black and the activated marks that lead one through and around the work,” she relates.
The City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowships exhibition at the Los Angeles Municipal Gallery was originally scheduled to run through July 5th, but due to COVID-19, the gallery itself was closed, and Wedgeworth’s COLA exhibition cancelled. However, the artist used her time well in bringing her work into the world despite this. “I hosted three weeks of studio visits so gallerists, curators, collectors and peers could spend time with the paintings. It was really moving to have such powerful conversations in the midst of the work.”
She adds “The experience with COLA made me grateful for the present experience and new work I produced. I am going to take a break to enjoy it all, recuperate and then get back to work. I have so many paintings that are waiting to be made.”
And undoubtedly also waiting are new viewers who will be drawn to the potent energy of her paintings.