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Artist of the Week: Lizabeth Eva Rossof

June 26, 2011

Terra Cota Army by Lizabeth Eva Rossof, 2010, each 18” x 7” x 7”

When I first saw these works by Lizabeth Eva Rossof, I laughed right away and read them as humorous Pop art.  The combination of opposites -ancient to current- is very entertaining and the statues are very well executed.  After thinking it over for a while, I did sense they had a subversive level; Qin’s army is presented as corporate entities, America’s primary cultural export as colonizing corporatism.  I went to her portfolio website which confirmed:

“[Her] artwork is about power.  Through her practice she examines the dissemination of personal political, economic, and sexual power and liberty in the digital age. These subjects are informed by data (factual and untrue, evidenced and unsubstantiated) gathered from the Internet. Her inquiries are performative research projects and experiments in investigation.”

Photo Credit: Yu Haibo

The artist is using Kickstarter to fund a combination physical art, multimedia and video project currently in progress regarding the Chinese factory painters that I previously complained about.  Lizabeth Eva Rossof is communicating with them, employing them and humanizing them in a work entitled “Master Copy: The Painters of Xiamen”:

The Xiamen painters’ training is tightly focused on photorealistic copy. Traditionally the painters of Xiamen have made reproductions of Chinese Master Paintings,  and in the past 100 years, Western Master Paintings as well. With the introduction of the internet, the painters of Xiamen have been able to expand their customer base to anyone in the world that has a jpeg they want turned into a hand-oil-painted image on canvas. The majority custom orders are for images taken from people’s Christmas cards, glamour shots, family reunions, prom, and wedding photos, therefore portraiture is a strong focus in the Xiamen painters’ education. Self-portraiture, however, and concepts of personal voice and/or style are not part of their artistic training.

For ‘Master Copy: The Painters of Xiamen,’ I will travel to Xiamen, to meet, interview, and collaborate with the painters face-to face for the first time.  I have worked with these painters in the past, but always internationally communicating through the Internet. This time, instead of commissioning them via Skype and email, I will personally ask them to paint themselves as they would like to be presented to an international audience. Through the self-portraits of these highly skilled and technically proficient painters, the resulting collection of paintings will examine the attention to, desire for, and facility with ‘the personal voice’ that each of these painters individually may (or may not) have.”

It is exactly the kind of inquisitive curiosity and intelligent investigation behind Master Copy: The Painters of Xiamen” that makes her work interesting.  If I did not live in penury myself I would definitely donate to her Kickstarter page; donations can go in until July 22, 2011 for a planned project launch this August.  She is offering gifts and rewards to donors that support this project.  If I had mad trump, I would love to drop tens of thousands of dollars on her project just to see what she did with it.  Meanwhile, I will have to anticipate the results of the completed project and make a mental note to buy a winning lottery ticket. 

Learn more about Lizabeth Eva Rossof at her portfolio website here.

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