One of our featured artists in our Corona online exhibition, Liz Calvi’s work illuminates inner beauty and light. Her series, Lost Boys was featured at the Griffin in 2014. Her Corona highlighted image, Christian, comes from that series. We wanted to know more about the work, and how she finds the beauty and strength within her subjects.
How does light play in your work?
The relationship I have to light varies for each series I make, but I would say a common thread would be that light is a defining factor when I create my work.
For Lost Boys in particular, I wanted to use natural light to express a quiet beauty and a feeling of reverie. When I made this series, the narrative depicted my generation highlighted the success of women in the workplace and the decline of a 1950s mentality of men as masculine financial providers. We left high school in 2008 and entered either the job market or college during a financial crisis. The narrative excluded the hardship that many of us were feeling and, coincidentally, how these new circumstances were chastising men for not living up to an outdated view of masculinity. The young men I photographed were all living at home (as was I) and I wanted to use light to show a softer side to masculinity while concurrently evoking empathy towards our generation.
We highlighted your image from the series Lost Boys, featured at the Griffin back in 2015. The connection you have with your subject is truly captured in this intimate moment. How did it come about?
Christian and I are from the same town, our childhood homes are right around the corner from each other. We became friends in high school so we already had an established relationship prior to making this photograph. As with most of the young men I photographed for Lost Boys I didn’t go in with a preplanned idea. I went to Christian’s home one afternoon and we chatted while walking around the different rooms in his house. I surveyed the light while listening to his stories as he told me various memories he had from different places in his home. We took a few photographs that day, but I settled on this one in his room because of the balance between the distortion and grace in his gesture, complemented by the dappling light.
In this time of Corona, how do you find light in your day?
I’ve tried to see this time in insolation as a way to reexamine my relationship to light and nature which we tend to overlook in our typical fast-paced consumer society. I’ve been using my digital devices less frequently and taking my camera outdoors or simply just enjoying nature hands free. Light has been providing happiness and relaxation for me, it has been a solace in our time of Corona. I’ve also been making time to reflect in the spring light and hope it provides others with a similar time for personal reflection but also a time to consider how our society is structured and what it prioritizes.
What is next for you creatively? What are you working on?
Recently I’ve been focusing on the representation of women in digital spaces and how this impacts identity from an autobiographical and collective cultural memory lens. This direction has led me to make videos and writing to go with my photographs in larger installations. I finished grad school this past year and am in the beginning phase of research, writing, and storyboarding for new video work.
About Liz Calvi –
Liz Calvi (b. 1990 Hartford, USA) lives and works between London and NYC. Her practice encompasses photography, video, writing and installation works with critical concerns regarding performance, sexuality, autobiography, identity and digital media.
Calvi received her MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths 2019 and her BFA from the University of Hartford in 2012 after studying at Pratt Institute. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including Der Greif, Juxtapoz, Aint-Bad and Fader. Her photography has been exhibited internationally and is in several public & private collections. She has a limited- edition book in the permanent collection at Antenna in New Orleans as part of The Blue Library Vol 2