Liza Lou update
August 12, 2009

Liza Lou, Continuous Mile

Liza Lou, "Continuous Mile"

This is an update to my April post about Liza Lou’s fascinating beadwork.

Congratulations to Liza Lou. Her recent (2007-2008) beaded sculpture, Continuous Mile (seen above), is on a two-year loan from the artist to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

When I saw this impressive piece at the L&M Arts Gallery in December,  I didn’t think that it could possibly have been beaded until I got close enough to see the sparkle. It is a mile-long length of cotton rope that has been twisted with white glass beads and coiled into a big sculpture approximately 77 inches in diameter by 32 inches in height.

As I mentioned in my previous article, Liza Lou now does her labor-intensive artwork in South Africa with highly skilled Zulu bead workers, and the names of the 44 artisans who were her collaborators on Continuous Mile are listed on the gallery wall.

Continuous Mile can be seen on the second floor of the Met’s Lila Acheson Wallace wing until January 2011.

Liza Lou
April 22, 2009

Liza Lou - "Born again"

Liza Lou - "Born again"

Several months ago, in response to a reader’s comment, I posted a couple of my photos of Liza Lou’s artwork on my gallery page, and ever since then I have been surprised by the number of hits that my blog gets searching for “Liza Lou,” so I figured that for those of you looking for Liza Lou here, I might as well provide an actual article.



I became a fan of Liza Lou’s artwork when I saw her “Beaded Kitchen” at the New Museum, NYC, in 1996.

It was an actual-size kitchen, fully furnished with table, chairs, cabinets, sink, detergent boxes, food, etc.; an ordinary kitchen except that every surface — and every undersurface — was completely covered with sparkling colored beads.

It was an audaciously original idea, brilliantly (literally) executed, and I was smitten. Besides, anyone whose ambition is to “bead the world” has my vote, and she certainly deserves the MacArthur “genius” grant that was awarded to her in 2002.

The next Liza Lou exhibition that I saw was the beaded interior of a full-size trailer (detail below) that was parked inside the dimly lit, cavernous Deitch Projects gallery in 2003.

Liza Lou trailer detail

Liza Lou - Trailer detail

I read online that the outside of the trailer was beaded, too, but I didn’t see it. That isn’t as weird as it sounds, because it was actually a subtly-beaded trailer (!) in a poorly-lit space. You can see the trailer — inside and out — and more of Liza Lou’s early work here.

If I followed the art scene more closely, I might not have been so surprised by some of the new work in her show last winter at L&M Arts in New York. There was a beaded, full-size chain-link fence enclosure (complete with razor wire), and huge coils of beaded cable, but what I didn’t expect were the beautiful wall pieces with sophisticated, complex imagery and beaded/dimensional/textured surfaces.  A detail from one piece is shown below and L&M Arts has an excellent slideshow of images from the exhibition on its website.


Liza Lou - "Offensive/Defensive" 2008, detail


Last I read, Liza Lou is working with Zulu beaders in Durban, South Africa, so here’s an example from an exhibition of Zulu glass beadwork in 2003, and click on the link to see more.

Zulu beaded stripes

Zulu beaded stripes

She must feel right at home.

Update: for more about Liza Lou, see
my latest article