As a child she would organize imaginative games that kept herself and the children in the neighborhood busy for days. Later in life, as an adult, she continues to re-invent arenas of social interaction while she repeatedly gives birth to a hybrid between art and community-organizing. By creating participatory art and politically engaging with it Suzanne Lacy has become an internationally acclaimed and celebrated artist, according to CreativeTime perhaps even the most important socially-engaged artist working today.
Yes, there is a fine line between art and political activism in Suzanne Lacy’s work. Depending on your angle you will discover either the one or the other, or both. No, it is not always easy to deal with Suzanne Lacy’s creations – her issues of choice are certainly not always easy to digest, ranging from feminism over labor, immigration and poverty to rape – but in every single way her works function as a wake-up call for society, making it an enriching experience and invaluable.
On Mother’s Day in 1987 Suzanne caused a stir with her now best known art project titled The Crystal Quilt. It represented the culmination of The Whisper Minnesota Project that had lasted over a period of three years filled with community organizing, art exhibitions, lectures and seminars. So in 1987, about 430 older women got together for a unique performance to express their thoughts and feelings on growing old, all of it broadcasted live on Public Television. Last year, the Tate Gallery in London gave The Crystal Quilt a revival.
Other works of the Californian artist, to give you only a small selection, include Three Weeks in May (1977) where the number of reported rape cases were brought into the immediate attention of the people of Los Angeles. During The Oakland Projects (1991), which lasted over a period of ten years, Suzanne worked with the local youth in several small projects. For Silver Action (2013), one of her more recent works, she invited elderly women of 60+ to speak about their past activist movements and how, as a new frontier in life, they cope with the fact that they are growing old. Her most recent work is titled Between the Door and the Street (2013) where thousands of engaged citizens gathered on Brooklyn’s stoops while discussing a myriad of topics related to today’s gender politics.
When Suzanne is not busy working on her many art projects she picks up the pen to write about public art or to edit other people’s work on public art. In addition to that, Suzanne co-founded the Visual and Public Art Institute at the California State University together with artist Judith Baca in the 90s. Today she is serving the Chair of Fine Arts at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
We are very happy to be able to welcome her on 28 November to Stroom’s lecture series The Knight’s Move in The Hague where she will be talking about her experiences and practices as an artist and educator.