(Editor's note: This weekend is Art-A-Whirl, the yearly art party where hundreds of studios, galleries, and warehouses in northeast Minneapolis open their doors and invite art lovers in for special demonstrations, exhibitions, performances, and sales. This week we'll be taking a look at some of the people and places you may want to check out.)
The drawings and paintings of Liza Sylvestre fuse science with art. Leaves, roots, and blooms wind together in their own cosmos, made colorful with splashes of pink, blue, and green. The works could almost belong in a botany or biology book. Instead, they exist as a fantastical exploration for your wall. In addition to being on hand at Art-A-Whirl, Sylvestre has exhibited nationally, and teaches art classes to budding creative types.
Name: Liza Sylvestre
Where we can find you this weekend? For Art-A-Whirl, I will be hanging out in my live/work space at Jackson Flats in northeast Minneapolis. Come visit me in unit #301!
Years spent in your current space, and working in MN: I just moved into my new space last October. Before that, I had a studio in the Q.arma building on Quincy Street, which was one of the most beautiful studio spaces I've ever had. I grew up in south Minneapolis, but became a professional artist in Miami. I lived there for over six years. This July will mark my second year back in the Twin Cities.
Briefly, tell us about what you do and why:
I am a visual artist. I've tried to have a regular job -- I worked as a fashion designer for over four years -- but I was miserable. Making artwork for a living is the only thing that makes any sense in my life, and it's what I know how to do best.
Right now, I am also an educator. Myself and two other women are teaching a series of art classes at Four Seasons Elementary in St. Paul. Our grant-run program (thank you MN State Arts Board!) is focused on using art as a means of communication that transcends the barriers presented by hearing abilities/inabilities. I grew up with a significant and progressive hearing loss, so this work is near and dear to my heart and has been an amazing experience.
Name three things that influence your work right now:
Writing and working in the studio as much as I can.
My senses, and how I perceive the world through them.
Science, because it explains many things that I have always known about the world. Recently I've been learning about Fractals, which is a way of explaining the visual patterns and architecture of nature.
Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:
My partner, who is an amazing artist.
The overarching patterns that I see weaving through the world.
What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?
I just finished a three-person show at Nahcotta gallery in Portsmouth, NH. And I am super duper busy finishing up a bunch of new work for my solo show in July which will be at the MacRostie Art Center. I was lucky enough to receive a MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant for my work on this show, which is a visual investigation of my senses and how they relate to my body and my experience of the world. What does sound look like? What shape is it? Is it the shape of a body? How do senses attach themselves to each other and mix themselves up? I am working larger and with some new mediums, so it has been a challenge and an incredible growth period.
How has the Minnesota scene changed since you began working here?
I feel like I just got here! I left Minneapolis to live in Miami in my early 20s, so I feel like I am living here as an adult for the first time, and working here as a professional artist for the first time. What I know is that there are good people in this city and there is a significant amount of support for artists. I feel lucky to be here.
Finally, are you doing anything special for Art-A-Whirl you'd like our readers to know about?
This is kind of an odd Art-A-Whirl for me, as I'm in the thick of finishing up work for my solo show. I will have abundant amounts of prints for sale, and some small original works. It will be a chance for people to see what my work space is like, and to see a sneak peek of my in-progress new work.
IF YOU GO:
Various locations in northeast Minneapolis
5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 8 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
For more info, visit nemaa.org/art-a-whirl