Visual artist Lisa Hunt encourages you to find kinship and connection through her artwork. She shares the creative inspiration of her youth that ties into her evolving artwork in the present; influencing collage work markedly inspired by traditional African American quilt-making. In this interview, Lisa reflects on her past, present, and future.
Photography by Kelly Marshall
Michiel Perry: What early influences emboldened your pursuit of becoming an artist?
Lisa Hunt: My earliest creative influences came from my family. From my father’s love of soul music and jazz, my mother teaching me to sew and crochet and my great Aunt Edna who was an amazing illustrator and commercial artist.
Michiel: How has growing up in Colorado influenced your art and creativity?
Lisa: When I look back on living in Colorado I most appreciate that every day I could look out my bedroom window and see the sunset behind the Rocky Mountains. Open, expansive skies allowed me to dream and daydream, getting lost in the colors of the sky.
Michiel: What is the inspiration behind the vibrant colors and the patterns displayed in your screen prints?
Lisa: I’d say I am inspired by my own imagination and attention to my day-to-day surroundings. Patterns, repeat patterns in particular, inspired my love of textiles. My work is in a place now that it is evolving rather quickly from being very symmetrical and graphic to being more gestural and colorful. In the fall of 2020, I started exploring collage after I started researching the history of African American quilting…specifically the use of strips of cloth, and in my case paper to create works on paper and also mounted on boards.
Infinity Collage No. 3
Michiel: What do you want your art to communicate?
Lisa: I would say that I want people to connect to my art and be moved in some way. And that could look like finding kinship, being drawn in and curious or appreciating its aesthetic beauty.
Michiel: Do you have another passion that fuels your art?
Lisa: Two life-changing events happened recently. The first is that my husband and I moved from Brooklyn, New York at the end of 2019 and bought a house in Maplewood, New Jersey. The second was the pandemic. For the first time in over 30 years, I have a garden and have become incredibly passionate about gardening. It’s helped me through the emotional ups and downs of not being able to socialize because of the pandemic. I have planted an array of beautiful plants, bushes, flowers and eventually I’d like to have a vegetable garden. Gardening feels like an extension of my creativity and when I’m planting or even weeding my mind is free to wander and also take in all of the natural beauty I’m creating through my garden.
Michiel: What is your favorite connection or experience you have had after finishing a piece of art?
Lisa: Earlier this year I completed a very large collage, Astral Variant, for a group show at the Trout Museum. Measuring 48 inches x 80 inches, it is my most ambitious work to date. Combining hundreds of strips of my previous editions and composed in a way that is dynamic, rhythmic and grand. It has an energy and a vitality that I look forward to continuing to explore.
Michiel: How do you motivate yourself to start your next piece?
Lisa: I have so many things constantly floating in my mind waiting to be made real, my biggest frustration is not being able to work fast enough! Motivation to create is not an issue for me.
Michiel: Can you describe feedback from one of your art pieces that made you see your art differently?
Lisa: Yes, my friend saw a thumbprint in one of my earliest editions on paper. I have to laugh because I see it now but when I was working on the series it never occurred to me. Now I’m starting to identify with the coils as a representation of myself!
Photography by Kelly Marshall
Michiel: Does your previous career in magazine publishing help as you build your brand as an artist?
Lisa: Yes, my experience as a creative director and “image maker” come in handy when I’m promoting my work on my website. Also, my design skills are valuable in creating marketing materials. But I’d also say it can be hard to be objective when the brand is you. Being so close to the work, there can be inherent blind spots. Ultimately I want my brand to be as authentic as my art.
Michiel: What would you say to individuals leaving behind another career to develop their craft as an artist?
Lisa: My transition took about 10 years, so I’d say be patient with yourself and the process.
Behind-the-scenes of the making of collages for Uprise Art gallery releasing in November.
Michiel: Anything new and exciting on the horizon for you?
Lisa: I moved into a new studio at the end of July at Manufacturer’s Village in East Orange, NJ. We’ll be hosting open studios from October 17-18. I’m excited to meet and greet potential collectors, gallerists and curators.
I am in a group show at the Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis, MN that opens in mid-September that I am really excited to be a part of. A Contemporary Black Matriarchal Lineage in Printmaking, the show centers the narratives of Black women printmakers, by Black women printmakers who have created a space for themselves in the printmaking world.
This November I’ll be releasing a new series of collages through my gallery Uprise Art. Also in December, I will be the artist-in-residence at MacArthur Place in Sonoma, California.
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