Understanding the Storm: Part 1

Featured image: “Wave” – Lizzy Storm

Hello readers! My name is Rachel Ogun, and I am currently a studio administrations intern at Gallery Aferro. I am presently pursuing a BA at Stockton University. As part of my internship, I serve as a studio intern/assistant to an artist whose work intrigues me, current resident Lizzy Storm. This opportunity has presented me with the freedom to observe, and explore the artistic processes of Lizzy. Below is the first part of an interview I conducted with Lizzy Storm in order to discover the place she believes art and science intertwine, and furthermore understand how her works can take us there.

Lizzy Storm is a multidisciplinary artist who received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 2012. Her work has been shown at the Newark Museum, Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art, Index Art Center, and Arts Guild New Jersey. She was awarded the Newark Print Shop Keyholder residency, and has maintained a Studio Residency at Gallery Aferro since 2014. Her public works have been exhibited with Activate: Market St. and Gateway Project Spaces. She owns and operates an apparel company, Lizzy Storm Designs.

Rachel Ogun: Before you decided to pursue a career in the art industry, what was your plan for life?

Lizzy Storm: I didn’t think much about it before sophomore and junior year of H.S. I maybe had some childish careers in mind before I really knew myself. But as I got to H. S., I started doing college prep and talked to a couple of students who were a couple of years older than me, I decided I would go the art route.


Rachel Ogun: Did this influence your decision to incorporate ideas of various forms of science, and mathematics into your artwork?

Lizzy Storm: Yes. My sister, Emma, always knew she wanted to be a scientist and I was inspired by her and thought that I was always smart enough to do what she did, and maybe I’d become a scientist someday. We have such different personalities that as I got to know myself better I knew I wanted to do something else with science other than work in the field.


Rachel Ogun: Do you create art with the intent of conveying a specific message to your audience? If so, what is the intent?

Lizzy Storm: There’s no specific message, just a general idea and concept. Studying illustration which has a lot to do with conveying a specific message, and helped me to hone my visual communication skills and doing certain exercises to convey a specific message as opposed to using it to convey a general notion, or concept I just gravitate towards the general emotional concept for that idea. If I was to describe the concept it’s that everything that has to do with human experience of life depends on your perspective, whatever that may be, and it’s probably always changing, and the perspective that I’m putting forth is that I see everything as a scientist sees it. I see physics, and biology, and cycles of time. You see a tree, I see photosynthesis. Give yourself an opportunity to just reframe your perspective on life and see where that takes you.


Rachel Ogun: Please can you describe how the creation process of your paintings usually begin? What about your sculptures?

Lizzy Storm: Paintings are one of the most time consuming works that I make. They begin with a general concept. I am currently working on one painting series that deals with the concept of space-time. That idea came from years and years of talking to my sister and my parents about science and physics, and astronomy and astrophysics. Growing up in the 2000s with the discovery and scientific emphasis on quantum mechanics in relation to astrophysics and trying to find the unified theory influenced my growth as an artist. The concept goes back many years. The current series I’m working on was also inspired by travelling cross country by car with two girlfriends from college as we drove through the Southwest. It was just amazing to me that with the little bit of art school training that I’d been given, to learn how to observe and look at things in a different way than I ever had before, I was seeing the landscapes in a totally new way. I was looking at the landscapes of the American  Southwest and the skyscapes and thinking how to tie in the landscape art to the idea of space-time where scientists say that if you look at a telescope to the galaxies, you’re actually looking at billions and billions of year old light. You’re looking back in time basically. The light you see is so old that the farther you look, the farther back in time you’re looking.  I’ll fold it in with the idea that space and time are linked and create some kind of fabric in which matter exists both here on earth and in space. (That’s the idea behind the geometric grid inside the landscapes).

So I got the idea as I was looking off into the distance. You could see for miles sometimes in the completely flat desert landscapes in Utah, and Arizona. You could see clear to the next state. You could see a storm happening miles away and right where you are it’s sunny and hot. I connected those two ideas of looking off into the distant space and looking off in time, and looking off into distant space here on earth and realizing that we must also be looking off into time because space and time are inextricably linked. Since the topic is pretty dense and heavy, I keep the titles of those pieces light hearted. So far they are titled after a song, “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody),” The song is very uplifting. It’s about wherever you are now, that’s the place you’re meant to be.


Rachel Ogun: What about your sculptures? Since they don’t have as much detail, what process do you begin with when creating your sculptures?

Lizzy Storm: I am pretty new to sculpture. I actually failed sculpture in college. The first semester I did okay. I got a C. The second semester, I failed. Then I had to retake it, and got a different teacher who had a different perspective of 3D design, as opposed to just sculpture. The class was retitled to Spatial Dynamics. I moved away from traditional sculpture, which was very rigid to me. There were too many rules that limited people instead of freeing them up, and I just didn’t connect to that. I connect to the idea of spatial dynamics, of the experience of space as opposed to just an object existing autonomously as a sculpture. So most of my sculptures start with me thinking about how the viewer is going to see it in space. Whether they’re going to be able to walk around it 360 degrees and see it from different angles or if it’s hanging on the wall, etc. At what height it’s going to hang; where the light’s going to cast shadows. I’m working both in sculpture and installation art. In installation, the specific space where the work is being exhibited almost determines what the piece is going to look like. One of the pieces I did for the Newark Museum’s NJ Arts Annual was called “Space Mapping”. In my studio it was viewed horizontally, and it was like a 3D net that straddled the corner of the walls in my studio. When I applied and was accepted for the show, the curator requested that I install it vertically so that it was on the ceiling and it really changed the way people saw the work. First of all, it was so far away that it seemed small whereas in my studio, and when it’s viewed horizontally it’s more immersive, and life sized. People said it looked like a spider web. It sort of was distracting, and wasn’t a huge success in my mind.

When I make sculptures, I’m practicing still. I don’t know much about sculpture, I sort of just make models and think about how people are going to see them in space. I’m taking digital graphs and making them in three dimensions.

Thank you Lizzy!

Stay tuned to the Aferro Studio blog for the second part of this interview.

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