A SEGMENT FROM MY April 11, 2016 Podcast Interview with Sergio Gomez of Art NXT Level and 33 Contemporary / by Lisa Goesling

PODCAST #75, available for free on iTunes:


In this episode, Sergio Gomez interviews Chicago-based artist, Lisa Goesling.

Lisa was awarded an Artists Residency with the Studios of Key West for 2016. She was one of six artists awarded a two year Residency from 2010-2012 at the Merchandise Mart of Chicago. Her art appears on the cover of NY Times Bestseller, Column McCann's novel, TransAtlantic, (Norwegian edition) which won the 2015 D&AD Award of Excellence in London, England. Domenic Iacono awarded Lisa Best of Show in the 2014 Less Is More exhibition at the Mitchell Gallery in Annapolis, MD. She is featured on the Cable TV Show, Artist to Artist, is a multiple Award Winner through Manhattan Arts International, exhibits throughout the United States and has her art in private/public collections throughout the world. 

Sergio: I am really excited to have Lisa Goesling on our program. Hi Lisa, how are you today?

Sergio: Well, first of all, I want to thank you for being a part of this Podcast. I am really grateful that you accepted our invitation. We are very excited that you start setting up your show tomorrow, we'll have it all ready for Friday. The exhibition is called, Same Difference and it's in the Art NXT Level Projects/33 Contemporary on the 4th floor of Zhou B Art Center in Chicago. The opening reception is on April 15th and we invite all of our Chicago friends to join us. You are giving an artist talk at 8:00 p.m., correct?

Sergio: We are going to talk about your show in a little bit, but before we do, I always like to go back in time and talk a little bit about your history. Tell us where you grew up, and how you decided to become an artist?

Lisa: Well, I grew up in Skokie, I turn 60 in June so that gives you an idea of the era I grew up in. My Mom was a fashion illustrator and my Dad was a trained Baritone. We were always creating art and singing around the house. He used to sing with Danny Thomas in the war, and put himself through law school singing. It was a creative household, kind of crazy, but fun!

I tell people that my first collectors were the neighborhood kids. I would create coloring books and sell them outside instead of lemonade. I'd set up a table, my feet didn't even touch the ground, and I'd sell all of my coloring books and then I'd rush back inside to make more. 

I started taking classes at the Art Institute of Chicago at twelve. I loved doing sculpture and painting and all of that kind of stuff, and wandering the halls of the museum. I guess you can say that art was always in my blood.

Sergio: That's fantastic! Tell us a little about where you went to school after that.

Lisa: Well, I went to NIU for two years for design and then I transferred to the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, it isn't even there anymore. I studied Graphic Design for my Father's sake, he was afraid I'd be living out on the streets if I went into painting, that was a big concern of his!

Sergio: Yah, yah!

Lisa: I was an art director for many years, and a graphic designer. I really think it helped me with what I do now, I have no regrets.

Sergio: How do you describe what you do? Your art is really detail oriented and your pieces are just beautiful, such detail! Tell us a little about the medium that you work with. 

Lisa: Right, you know I had cancer back in 2006 and I was looking for a way to get lost while I went for treatments and doctors visits. I discovered scratchboards. They are hard boards covered in a layer of Kaolin clay, which is used to make Porcelain. Then they are covered in a layer of India ink. All you do is use an X-ACTO knife or a tool and etch away at the ink, the image appears in the clay. When you talk about limitations, some people would be miserable with this medium, but for me, I get lost in the details. 

Sergio: And you can do that for hours and hours, right?

Lisa: Hours and hours, I have no idea what time it is!

Sergio: How long have you been working with the boards then?

Lisa: Since 2006, with this particular medium. I was always creating, painting, doing my own artwork. 

Sergio: And you have many of these boards in the upcoming exhibition? We'll talk about that in a minute. Besides the boards, you'll be presenting other types of work, can you tell us about that too?

Lisa: Some of the work is from my Interaction series. There's three different series that I am working with. Spontaneous Combustion, the Interaction series, which is a whole bunch of little characters, actually they were what made up my coloring books when I was a kid, they sort of come out of me, they are all over the house! In this particular series I drew on clear acrylic panels. When you layer the panels and look through them, they become abstract drawings. You'll see that in the show, they are fun to look through.

Sergio: Right, so you are installing them in a pedestal base so that people can look through them from either side?

Lisa: Yes, you look through them, you kind of have to look closely and then you suddenly start to see characters with personalities evolve. 

Sergio: What are some of the pieces that are going to be highlights in the show?

Lisa: Good question, there is one where I incorporated both my nature Eco-Psychology direction with my Spontaneous Combustion series, it's called Out With a Bang. The background is filled with all of these crazy designs, and the foreground has my nature drawings.

Sergio: And the exhibition that we are talking about is called, Same Difference, right?

Lisa: Yes, that's right.

Sergio: And that's because it has all different bodies of work? In the proposal you talked about your work with Eco-Psychology. Can you tell us a little about that?

Lisa: I can, it's actually an amazing thing, and it's real, something that people actually study. The idea of how we feel when touched by nature. It doesn't necessarily mean that we have to be out in a forest, just seeing the visual of something from nature can transport us, a flower for example can make us feel relaxed and better about things. It is the connection between nature and ourselves. 

Sergio: Your work is heavily influenced by that, a lot of your pieces incorporate natural elements, details of plants and flowers. I love how some of them become quite abstract. There is one in particular that I really love, it is a leaf, almost like a dry leaf in the fall with all of the tiny little cracks highly magnified so it becomes abstract. It is a really beautiful piece!

Lisa: Thank you.

Sergio: Tell us a little bit about these pieces, do you collect samples?

Lisa: I do collect, I have bins and bins of actual specimens, dragonflies, etc. You know what is so fascinating to me, the same patterns that show up in a dragonfly repeat themselves in that lacy leaf! 

Sergio: Oh really?

Lisa: Yah, the same kinds of shapes and patterns appear in both. You'll find that throughout nature, repeating designs. It doesn't matter if it's a butterfly or whatever, you'll find the same fundamental designs. 

Sergio: Yah, that's fantastic! Some of those pieces are really, really beautiful! You can almost hang them in any direction, although you always have them up and down, but they can work any way. 

Lisa: You can, or group them together so they form complex designs.

Sergio: In terms of format, some of them are square, which is very approachable. But then you have some longer, taller pieces that you might have them a triptych or diptych. How did you work with those in terms of the images that you are working with?

Lisa: You know, I never design or sketch first, I kind of just jump right in. I really don't actually plan how things are going to evolve on the page. The Spontaneous Combustion ones just kind of happen, they are all really spontaneous I guess. I think that it creates an energy that I don't get if if I plan too much.