Liza Lou was born in New York and currently lives and works in Los Angeles and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Her boundary-breaking work first gained international attention when her sculpture, Kitchen (1991-96), was shown at the New Museum in New York in 1996.
Introducing glass beads as her primary art material, this monumentally-scaled sculpture established the major themes that Lou continues to explore in her work today, such as materiality, labor and women’s issues.
Moving beyond the representational or symbolic, Lou’s socially engaged studio practice is integral to her work. In 2005 Lou founded a studio in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa to work with women deeply versed in the tradition of beadwork to assist her in the making her larger scale work, with the aim to create real social change. Through the provision of empowerment programmes and educational scholarships, Lou’s studio assistants and their families have built homes, many have started businesses, and some are now attending vocational programmes and pursuing university degrees. Recent works show an artist exploring her chosen art material within the framework of community practice and has led to meditations upon beauty and labour, and to formally rigorous explorations of colour and form, revealing the humanity hidden beneath labour intensive processes. Lou is currently working on a major project in a women’s prison in Brazil.
Lou is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” Fellowship (2002-07) and an Anonymous Was a Woman Award (2016). Skira Rizzoli published the first comprehensive monograph of the artist’s work in 2010 and her work has been the subject of over twenty books. Recent solo exhibitions include Lehmann Maupin in Hong Kong (2017); Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg (2016); Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY (2015); Wichita Museum of Art (2015); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA (2013) and SCAD Museum of Art (2011). Recent group exhibitions include the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum (2017); Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (2017); National Gallery of South Africa, Cape Town (2017); Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2017); and Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (2014).