The Suitcase Lady

Beads (Part Two)

August 1, 2018, 1:13 am

Last week’s blog featured the Vochol, a beaded Volkswagen. This week is about a more domestic beaded creation, an entire kitchen, and it is the work of one person.

American artist Liza Lou attended the San Francisco Art Institute where she was scorned for applying beads to her paintings. She subsequently dropped out of school and started using minuscule seed beads as her sole art media.

Her first major work was a life size reproduction of a suburban kitchen entirely covered in beads. This mind boggling project took five years (1991- 1996) to complete. Each of the millions of beads used was hand set with a tweezers.

Her next project in 1996 was entitled “Backyard”. It features a picnic table laden with food, a lawn mower, garden hose, flowers and grass. For this work she used help: volunteers came to her studio on Saturdays and worked on the 250,000 blades of grass. Overall, 30 million beads were used.

In 2006, Liza Lou went to Durban, South Africa for a two week visit to see Zulu beadworkers first hand. The ‘visit’ kept being extended and she has a studio there to this day. In it, Ms Lou employs both male and female African artisans. She, in turn, learns from them.

Liza Lou received a MacArthur Genius Fellowship in 2002. She is, indeed, a genius, and a very patient and generous one as well.

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