by Eddie Arroyo
A sculpture installation is sitting in the middle of the room, drawings and maps on the wall, and what seems to be an architectural relic in the back corner of the space. The studio is fairly large and open and yet it still seems too small to contain her work. We walk around her environment for a bit as I absorb the pieces. Lori Nozick has traveled the world for quite some time now. In her journeys she has created sculpture, drawings, environmental installations, and exhibited in places such as New York, Boston, California, Key West, Florida, Perugia, Trevi, and Venice, Italy, Israel, and most recently Berlin. Here in the Fountainhead studios, she offers me a worn office chair and we both sit.
I read on your bio that you resided in New York for many years and now you’re here in Miami, why Miami?
New York is a conundrum. There is great energy but it can also suck you dry and for me it has begun to feel…because it’s lived on its reputation for so long I feel that its lost something. It’s gotten very static and even what used to be non-establishment art spaces have become establishment, like the Lower East Side galleries. There are no alternative neighborhoods in New York City anymore. Even Brooklyn has become completely art socialized, art world gentrified. I feel that the art scene in general, museum curators, dealers, collectors, galleries, and the top tier, second tier of the larger venues that show work is still a very strong, systematic hierarchy. If you are a part of it great, if not you’ll never be. It seems to be that a lot of artists in New York are very competitive and they don’t like to share information. When I first moved to New York there was a tremendous sense of community. People had critique groups, people shared spaces more like this place feels to me. There was a dialogue between artists. And I have found increasingly over the years and I’m sure it’s because of the economy and the lack of resources and funding that there is a tightening and almost unfriendliness. It’s almost like a lack of fresh air. I’m very grateful that the day I was leaving New York, I found out I was awarded a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant. Sometimes intention, persistence, and belief in one’s work is rewarded after all.
Do you hope it will change to the way it was?
The thing about New York is, because of my history there I’ll never lose those relationships. I return fairly often and I notice that a lot of the artists here are also from New York and came here for very similar reasons but we also go back and forth. I think the current art market, the auctions houses, and the commercial and investment valuation of art has changed everything. My whole professional life I have been content to show in galleries and museums occasionally and to do a lot of site specific work and public work. But in the last three years I see that it is crucial for me to enter the art market and to have a gallery. Miami has a strong international art scene, it is less expensive than New York, and it feels like a place where things can happen more easily and with less stress.
Let’s talk about the work. Tell me about these pieces.
…if you could call a place home…
2011 and ongoing
Maps, drawing with Dead Sea mud, pink leveling string. sculptural elements.
total space: 10″ x 26″ x 8″.
I was trained as a painter but even when I was in graduate school I began to make three dimensional paintings, wall reliefs, and I still continue to use painting as a source of reference like these wood panels, for example. I always loved the surfaces of the sculpture and the materials. I left off using traditional materials a long time ago and these are painted with mud and tar as a way of creating texture and depth. When I started making the transition from painting to sculpture and making installation work, I began to look at sculptures that I felt a strong response to and examined what the elements were that meant something to me. These were pieces that were made out of really raw materials and straightforward. I started noticing the things I responded to: repetition of form, a certain way using the elements. I started looking at my own work and the images I was using; it was completely subconscious at the time but I realize now I wanted images and structures that are universal and primal. That no matter where you are in the world everyone can relate to it, what is that one thing? What is one of the most basic things? And I thought…shelter, home. Everybody has an idea of home.
How long have you been exploring this universal image? The reason I ask because it’s an image that is relevant today; especially in this country. Especially in light of the economic and mortgage crisis, which is directly affecting you. It’s a very visceral image right now.
I want to tell you something interesting that I never realized until I was on a panel several years ago talking about my work. And someone asked me, in regard to the types of materials I use, “Did you used to do this as a kid?” And I said, “… yes I did.” I lived in a wooded area and I wanted to have a secret hiding place or playhouse. And it’s always been about creating place. It’s not just about “home”, it’s about creating a special place whether it’s a spiritual place, a place of security or groundedness like a home, a place that one is drawn to for some reason. I use to go out in the woods and rake leaves, make rooms by drawing lines with the leaves, and make a whole area with connecting rooms by these leaves or building with found scrap wood. When I was in high school, I used to make architectural drawings like layouts of rooms and houses. I didn’t even know where that came from and I did this repeatedly. Over the years it’s been about the house itself and all kinds of architectural structures that lend themselves to a larger theme or sensibility or meaning. Like ladders, staircases, archways, towers. For a while now I’m working on the idea that the home is an illusion of safety, shelter is a state of mind, and that can be any kind of thing. When I began to do a lot of traveling, home then became that place you were at the moment. I am in the process of an installation called “…if you could call a place home…” based on the concepts of voluntary exile.
Tell me about the salt series, particularly the site specific installation in Key West?
I love archeology and history and I seek out archeological sites wherever I am. My art references where architecture and environment meet and it is intended to be a transient piece, changing with the weather and time, eventually dissolving. And the plan is to have it up for a year but maybe it will be up longer, I don’t know. The amazing thing about salt is that it’s a crystal and crystals grow, with moisture and heat. The salt blocks are animal licks that I build like laying bricks. I had this idea a long time ago and figured out how to get them to stick together. When the exhibition (in Key West) was over I had to take a sledge hammer to take it down. I didn’t realize how strong it was…. after three months being right by the water, the crystals in the salt every night would soak up the moisture from the ocean and the air. During the day the sun would pull the moisture out and the salt would recrystallize.
Sal Non Sal 124
A site-specific sculpture installation at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, in Key West Florida, as part of the Sculpture Key West Exhibition, curated by Shamim Momin and juried by Robert Chambers and others. The sculpture, intended to evoke an archaeological site, is created entirely of salt, blocks of salt laid like bricks and held together with a mortar made from seawater and loose fine salt. The process of making the salt solid involves constant and recurring crystalization of the salt molecules, and it has a luminous and ancient quality.
Dimensions: tower – 9′ x 17′ x 14′ columns – 5′ x 1′ x 1′ low wall – 3′ x 27′ x 6″
(Looking at a salt sculpture in the studio)…. As you can see this is all newly grown crystals on the walls. In the day light this installation looks unbelievable….. it looks very translucent because it’s basically a large crystal. There are so many layers of significance about salt to history, economics and trade, medicine, and preservation of food and health; I get excited talking about it. I just applied for a Fulbright Fellowship to go to Israel to do a salt project with Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem and other art organizations. My intention is to do a large salt sculpture project like this in a public place in Miami, there has been a lot of interest and right now I’m in the process of seeking funding and sponsorship for it.
It would look amazing here.
Yes it will!