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Queer Artists in Their Own Words: Liz Collins Wants to Decorate a Hotel With an Unrestricted Budget

LGBTQ Pride Month is now. Every day in June, we are celebrating the community by featuring one queer artist and letting them speak for themselves.

The month of June is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ community and reflect on the advances of queer people to strengthen civil liberties around the world, even in a moment of great political uncertainty. It’s also a good opportunity to spotlight the richness and diversity of culture we have within the community. Hyperallergic is commemorating Pride Month by featuring one contemporary queer artist per day on the website and letting them speak for themselves. Click here to participate.

Installation at Rossana Orlandi- Fuorisalone, Milan, Italy (2019) (image courtesy the artist)

Liz Collins

Age: 50

Location: Brooklyn

Artistic Medium: Fiber, Painting, Sculpture, Installation

Who are you and what do you do?

I work fluidly between art and design with an emphasis on fiber and textile media. Vivid palettes, dynamic patterning, and the transformation of yarn and fabric into multidimensional forms are some of the ways I create pieces. By embracing abstraction, optics, and extreme material contrasts, I explore the boundaries between painting, sculpture and installation. Intuitively, I try to express the energy, emotion, and the visceral qualities of existence.

Within one installation, the range of my making process is apparent. From slow hand-making processes to digital or industrial production, I create carpets, wallpaper, upholstered furniture, and textiles. I’m not married to any particular medium or method; I engage fully with whatever tools and people are needed to create the work.

I have always been an artist, but have moved across disciplines while maintaining a persistent interest in material, pattern and engagement with industrial processes. Curating works of other artists has become a strong component of my work with love for my community and peers. I do this work with a spirit of inclusivity and generosity.

What are the top three greatest influences on your work?

New wave music, the Arte Povera movement, and Mother Nature.

Describe your coffee order.

Espresso on ice.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Making a living from art.

What constitutes a perfect day?

There are so many ways to have a perfect day but my favorites happen during residencies: long morning runs, a slow day with some admin work thrown in there, and an all nighter in the studio with no pressure. No domestic chores and no commuting.

What was your favorite exhibition from last year?

Outliers and American Vanguard Art curated by Lynne Cooke at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

What would your superpower be if you had one?

To fly.

Tell us a lie about yourself.

I sleep soundly through the night.

What is one question you wish somebody would ask about your work?

Would you like to design a hotel with an unrestricted budget?

What is the greatest threat to humanity?

Scary and reckless people in positions of power.

Do you prefer spilling the tea or throwing shade?

Spilling, for sure.

What is your all-time favorite work of art?

“Room No. 2” (1966) by Lucas Samaras; also known as “Mirrored Room.”

What are your plans for pride month?

I went to the Queer Zine Fair, the opening of Y’all Better Quiet Down at the Bureau of General Services — Queer Division (BGSQD), Stonewall 50 at Clifford Chance, and several other queer art shows already. I also attended Clit Club, making a pair of conjoined chairs for the set of Lesbapalooza at Dixon Place. I will be shipping out to a five-week residency in a remote part of Alaska before the big marches happen. FOMO and relief are coming all at once.

What is the future of queerness?

That we are no longer an “other.” Complete normalcy.

Back in my day…

You could smoke on an airplane. Kids ran around outside without parental supervision and sat in the front seats of cars.

Name one guilty pleasure.

Looking at paparazzi party pictures of fabulous people.

Greatest queer icon of the internet: BabadookMomo, or a pervading sense of existential angst?

A pervading sense of existential angst.

Is there enough support for queer artists where you live?

Yes and no. There are so many great queer arts orgs and institutions: Queer Art, Fire Island Art Residency, the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, BGSQD, Participant. There are also places with queer-leaning programs like Performance Space, La MaMa, Dixon Place, and New Museum. That piece is great — just amazing — and it’s a big part of why I am here in New York. Many artists I know, however, myself included, struggle with the cost of rent. Queer or not, it’s just so expensive to live and work here  and the subsidized and free studio programs are extremely competitive. I feel like I’m always trying to tweak things so I can have the space I need to work well without going broke doing so.

How do you stay cool during the summer?

Leave town. But I like the heat.

What is your favorite type of milk?

Oat milk.

“Queer Artists in Their Own Words” is an ongoing feature happening every day in the month of June. For prior posts in the series, please click here.

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