Happy Super Freaking Amazing Saturdays everyone! It's that time of the week again, when I take off my snarky hat of self-possessed and deep-rooted ridicule of all crafts hideous and put on my technicolour bonnet of unending envy of all artists talented. And boy, do I have a talented artist for you all today to openly adore and secretly resent. Her name is Liza Lou, and she covers things in beads. Don't underestimate what I mean, though: homegirl seriously covers things in beads. Millions of beads. Pallets of beads. Like, lots and lots of beads.
For example, one of her earliest works was an installation piece she called Kitchen (1995), which is really quite a shrewd description of, well, a kitchen. An entirely bead-coated kitchen. And here it is:
I implore you - dare you, even - to contemplate the fact that every single inch of this kitchen is entirely covered in beads. And if your head starts to implode just trying to understand the magnitude of what this implies, don't worry: that is the correct response.
Let's take a closer look, shall we? Here is the fridge:
And here is the broom and dust bin:
In fact, Liza Lou used so many beads in the construction of this 168 square-foot kitchen she won the Guinness World Record for the Largest Bead Art, by incorporating at least 40 million glass beads, which, if strung together, would reach from L.A. to San Francisco.
Indeed, just completing this piece left Liza undernourished and with acute tendonitis in her hands. Which I could have told her beforehand, let's be honest, if she had let me know that she planned on covering an entire kitchen in 40 million glass beads individually using only glue and a pair of tweezers.
After completing Kitchen, Liza Lou began work on, and subsequently finished, a piece called, imaginatively, Backyard (1999). And, as with Kitchen, it doesn't make any false promises. It truly is a 525-square-foot backyard covered entirely in beads:
With a beaded lawnmower:And beaded sandwiches with beaded bites beaded out of them:
And beaded Budweisers laying amidst a beaded full-size suburban lawn composed of 250,000 individually beaded blades of grass.
You get the point.
While you and I might deign to call this extraordinary level of craftsmanship "rather thorough", "manically obsessive" even, Lou evidently resents the implication and explains, "What's far more frightening for people is to consider the possibility that I'm completely aware of what I'm doing." And she has a point. That really is far more frightening. But, and rightly so, she added at a later date, “It’s summing up someone’s lifework as a mental oddity,” which is clearly something I would never aim to do.
< /sarcasm >
The last piece of hers that I would like to highlight is a piece called Security Fence I, which, in a way, I actually admire more than some of her more vibrant pieces, as the sheer cathartic monotony within the production of this installation is a bit staggering.
As with the other pieces, this item is entirely coated in millions of silver beads, glued on individually, effectively transforming this imposing symbol of imprisonment and restraint into a shimmering, surreal symbol of luxurious excesses and unrestrained indulgences. And look! It's shiny!
Her work, described as "Pop suffused shrine," began in 1989 as a nod to Andy Warhol, but she also notes that part of her motivation is an interest in "rescuing things in some way". And naturally, by "rescuing" she means "covering in fuckloads of beads", and by "things" she means "massive chain-link structures and/or rooms in the house".
And that's about it, everyone! If you're interested in seeing more of Liza Lou's work, such as her beaded portraits of all the presidents, or her beaded trailer, or any of her smaller beaded sculptures, I suggest using this newfangled internet tool called "google.com". It's wicked.
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