I am interested in the contrast between places such as parks and natural areas and modern ways of building and living. We have cultural ideas of beauty and the sense of the untouched associated with these places. Often, outdoor landscapes seem to be in their natural state, but are often actually created, planned, built, and maintained as part of our culture. I consider a personal sense of experience, memory, or connection to places I have lived or traveled.
We think of nature as untouched and wild, and not something controlled or created by humans. Through my work I attempt to create a sense of connection to nature in the viewer, utilizing materials collected in specific places along with topographical mapping, drawing connection to place and experience. Materials and process are important conceptual factors, as I combine traditional ceramic materials with found and sourced natural materials such as granite, clay, and sand mixed with collected refuse such as glass, metal, and waste glaze. These elements are changed through melting, flowing, and fusing together in the firing process to a different chemical state, mimicking the processes of the earth does over millennia and utilizing a sense of artifice, to visually represent abstractions of land, caves, and bodies of water, as well as simple life forms such as bacteria that may live in them. Remnants of human past can become a visible or invisible part through this process, drawing questions about nature as a built environment.
I question the idea of culturally valuable versus personally valuable natural space. The contrast between the natural and man-made, and natural versus created divisions of space are important factors. Natural places can have positive effects on our well being, many of which we may not yet understand, and the effects of created nature may have the same effects as the real. We often collect things such as stones and coral and bring them into our homes, reminding us of our fascination with natural objects. The relationship we have both culturally and individually to nature, the contrast between wildness and wilderness, human versus geologic time, permanence and impermanence, and the effect these areas have on our lives is the focus of my work.
— Lisa S. Truax
Lisa S. Truax is originally from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. She attended Carthage College, gaining BA degrees in Studio Art and Graphic Design with a Business minor. After working in design for 5 years, she attended Michigan State University and earned her MFA in ceramics. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Art and Design at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona. She maintains a studio in Pickwick, Minnesota.