Lyz Wendland is a visual artist based in Stillwater, Minnesota. With an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and a BFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato, her work has gained international recognition, showcased in galleries like the Berkeley Art Center and the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art Museum. Her dedication to innovation is evident through grants such as the Jerome Foundation Project Grant and the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant. Currently an Assistant Professor at Augsburg University, Lyz guides students through drawing and painting courses.

Lyz Wendland

Her art embodies the interplay of color and shape, exploring spaces of opposing theories. Utilizing mediums from acrylic to digital marks, she challenges assumptions and encourages contemplation. In an exclusive interview with Create! Magazine, Lyz Wendland discusses her creative process, the clash of visual elements, and the transformative power of casting familiar imagery in new contexts.

Lyz Wendland

Your process involves repurposing your former artworks and infusing new life into their narratives. Could you delve deeper into the inspiration behind this method and how it allows you to explore the transformation of traumas into sources of strength, resilience, and beauty?

The inspiration for this approach arises from my personal journey and the process of working through adverse childhood experiences. Repurposing my work serves as a constant reminder that I can choose to either remain trapped in my history or craft fresh meanings from it. I acknowledge my position of privilege (including being white, able-bodied, and cisgender). My aspiration is for my work to encourage viewers to also consider what they can rejuvenate or reimagine.

Lyz Wendland

The acts of cutting up, tearing, and rearranging are described as liberating within your practice. How does this process of reinvention and redefinition from a new perspective impact the themes and messages conveyed in your artwork?

This process significantly influences the themes in my work since it becomes an integral part of those themes and messages. The act of taking something old and reshaping it into something novel, distinct, and more profound aligns with my artistic goals. Life often requires self-reflection and adjusting perspectives, and my creative practice anchors me in this mindset, a reminder I carry beyond the studio as well.

Paintings by Lyz Wendland

Your work challenges viewers' assumptions about space, place, and thought by situating familiar imagery within new contexts. Can you provide a couple of examples of how you achieve this and the resulting impact on viewers' perceptions?

One instance within my recent work involves merging digital marks with tactile ones. This fusion affects viewers' perceptions by occasionally blurring the distinction between the two when observed. Another example lies in the shapes I employ. Even a simple form like an Oak leaf is continually reinterpreted into fresh shapes.

Lyz Wendland

Currently, you hold the position of Assistant Professor of Art & Design at Augsburg University, where you teach drawing and painting courses. How does your role as an educator inform your artistry, and what do you find most rewarding about guiding and mentoring aspiring artists?

Being an educator deeply informs my artistic practice. On a daily basis, I encourage students to embrace vulnerability, venture into uncharted territories, and trust both themselves and me. This insistence on vulnerability reminds me of my own need for these qualities. Most rewarding? Well, the list is extensive. My students at Augsburg are truly inspiring! Their courage in navigating the creative process's highs, lows, mistakes, and risks brings fulfillment daily. Participating in someone's educational and creative journey is an immense privilege, and I'm honored to offer guidance.

Lyz Wendland

Could you discuss the significance of being an artist residing and working in the Twin Cities and how this environment influences your creative practice and the themes embedded in your work?

The Twin Cities provides a dynamic backdrop for artistic endeavors. The atmosphere is invigorating and fosters collaboration, with many passionate individuals around. Fellow dedicated artists have left an indelible mark on me. It might be amusing, but even the climate here impacts my work positively. While winters can be harsh, the other seasons are delightful. Being connected to nature, much of my exploration stems from my surroundings, evident in my work. Sustainability has remained a recurring theme, exemplified by my plant-derived inks crafted a few years ago from foraged materials along the nearby river. This process mirrors the concept of transforming something into new significance.

Lyz Wendland

Which artists or creatives serve as inspiration and influence for your work?

My sources of inspiration are diverse: Ann Hamilton, Mona Hatoum, Ai Weiwei, Polly Apfelbaum, Ernesto Neto, Judy Chicago, Jeannine Antoni, Do Ho Suh, Eva Hesse, Kiki Smith, Ghada Amer, Mark Bradford, and more. I'm drawn to those who defy artistic boundaries, challenge established systems, and blend various mediums—essentially, rulebreakers.

Lyz Wendland

What's on the horizon for you?

I've participated in a yearlong sketchbook project through Augsburg Art Galleries, the university's gallery where I teach. This venture invited artists globally to observe and document monthly sketches of their surroundings. The exhibition, featuring works from twenty-two artists, is set to open this coming month. The project's Instagram page is: @augsburg_galleries.

Additionally, experimentation is next on my agenda. Following a recent solo exhibition, I'm reflecting on that body of work and contemplating future projects, while also prioritizing rest this summer. I'm actively seeking exhibitions, grants, and opportunities using the documentation from that show. After concluding an exhibition, I relish the exhaustion and the potential it brings for new ideas or projects. The specifics remain uncertain, but I'm on the lookout for spaces where I can work on a grand scale. Exciting times lie ahead—stay tuned!