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Liza Lou and her Trailer

Liza Lou is a contemporary art rebel.
While that may seem like a nonsensical or self-evident description (aren't all contemporary artists "rebels"?) Liza Lou was actually expelled from the academy for following her vision. In short, she got kicked out of art school for refusing to give up her beads.

Like an ABBA song gone strangely awry, Liza Lou is "The Beading Queen." She takes tiny, shiny glass beads and remakes, beads and paints the world. In life size. In real space. Each piece takes years and years to complete, and causes her physical agony, not because she's handicapped, but because the work is incredibly difficult. She has made a life sized back yard out of beads. Each blade of grass was a strand of beads. It took five years to complete. One of the first questions Lou tends to get asked is "why?"

The answer to that question is another reason why Lou is different from the standard contemporary artist. Lou beads and makes such difficult large scale works because she finds that the act of creating in this way is a prayer. Unlike the reflexive irony that haunts most contemporary art, Lou's work is not a parody. Her beads do not put the surface they cover in post-modern quotations -- they make it glitter and shine. They make the ordinary beautiful, the dull sparkle. She says her method makes her fingers touch each and every surface inch of her art, and in doing so, she shows respect for it. Her work is also a sort of prayer/self flagellation popular in many religious sects. The tedium and pain of her work is her version of martyrdom.

Liza Lou's latest work, Trailer, takes a vintage trailer and fills it not only with beads, but with a potent and vivid story.

The story is compromised of guns, hunting books and decor, cheap paintings of western cliches, a typewriter, an odd note, a photo, a cluttered, messy kitchen, and finally, a glimpse of a leg lying suspiciously still on the bedroom floor next to a handgun. Besides the leg (with the pant leg fallen back to reveal the man's sock -- a vulnerable and telling clue in and of itself) there is a TV on, the show on its screen the only moving thing in the apartment. On the TV, Force of Evil plays in an endless loop.

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