What do you think the purpose of art is?
The purpose of art is limitless and different for everyone. It’s a receipt of your life force, a map, a fantasy world, a mirror… so many things. If you’re asking what the purpose is for me, right now? In This 4am online chat with my brilliant friend Michael Corvo, he distilled a sentiment that can really relate to.
“I just think the way to fight superficial goal-oriented media-driven living is to make art that recognizes the vulnerability of the solitary human spirit.”
What is your background?
I grew up on the small island of Martha’s Vineyard in an incredibly close and loving community. People value creativity and nature above all else. My parents make political documentaries and are involved in human rights work and so I was around their artistic and soul fueled pursuits from day one.
Your recent show, American Dream, featured hyper realistic paintings of icons of the American Dream with a singular disturbing element shattering that dream, a man on his magnificent yacht with his head bowed in despair, a glamorous celebrity being started down by the eyes of wolves, an Architectural Digest type house with a dead deer in pool. What led you to take this approach?
I wanted to depict images where one element brings the entire story and nature of the scene into question. A person betrays the fantasy of luxury by being totally depleted or internally deprived. The ultra-modern dream-home with its chlorinated pool intended to replicate nature, creates problems for the actual nature that lives around it. And yet these luxurious places are feats of human effort, they’re beautiful and places I would dream of living myself. I made these paintings as a way to think further about shared cultural aspirations.
In your series POV, (which refers to Point of View), we are placed in the position of voyeurs of couples in moments of intimacy and also with slight resistance in that intimacy, such as in Meeting. What motivated you to do this series?
The paintings in this series are about intimacy. I struggle with the desire to polarize everything. A great connection, a good partner, a terrible relationship, a bad chapter. These paintings deal with reconciling impulse, desire, and successful closeness.
The goal with this was to make more room in my definition of love and what it means to be close to someone else. Including myself.
What reactions or feelings do you hope to arouse in people who view your work?
My ultimate goal is to have other people see my work and reach into their own bank of experiences, their own thoughts, feelings, and realizations. We all share moments of intimacy and questions about the future, I’m just a person asking other people through imagery, have you felt anything like this? Am I alone here?
Your paintings seem to be reality superimposed with unreality. What led you to formulate that cerebral contradiction?
The simple fact that no one knows what life is and the experience of being alive is so ever changing, I’m confident that they hold equal merit and are often the same.
Do you paint from principals, images, or from what directives and why?
I pursue strangers and friends to pose for me. right now I’m working with images of people fighting, falling, sneezing, wasted… moments when they’re totally unselfconscious. I’m fixated on the honesty in people when they are out of their heads, the honesty contained in that gesture.
You’ve had a history of slashing your canvases. Why leads to that kind of expression, or rather, destruction?
If it’s a weak composition, instead of pushing through because I can, I’d rather make that impossible and be freed to start something that’s more clear.
What artists/thinkers living or dead have you been drawn to? What in their oeuvre spoke to you?
My current influences are Avery Singer, and Christain Rex Van Minnen for how they deal with the intersection between painting and technology.
Jordan Wolfson has a poignant and often biting sense of humor that he incorporates into his art that I really delight in, along with his acute sense of emotional self-awareness.
David Altmedj creates figurative sculptures that although sometimes grotesque, for me generate a feeling of spiritual seeking and chaos. I find comfort and wonder in his sculptures.
Can you describe what a typical day in the studio is like for you?
-YouTubing videos of animals and insects
-Screenshots of textures or colors I love
-Checking in with the other vampire painters I’m connected with through social media
-Putting on a podcast to hear another human voice while I get ready to paint
-Tricking myself into starting by doing one small “fix” 6 hours later I’m ready to stop
-Sitting on my steps outside and looking at the sky
-Wandering around the garden lifting the bowed heads of my monster sunflowers
-Feeling like an alien
-Imagining the people I love and laughing out loud like a crazy person
-Laying in different strange configurations among the trash of my studio and looking at my work, either elated or filled with despair.
Lily Morris’s paintings will be featured in Bird Box, with Sandra Bullock, coming out December 21, 2018.
For more on Lily Morris, check out http://www.lily-morris.com/