Beyond the canvas

When it comes to the work of Erika Lizée, art is not merely bound to a typical canvas, and at Pierce College’s Art Gallery, ”Gazing into the Great Unknown,” helps turn the gallery itself into an art piece.

Lizée, a Chicago-born artist, now resides in the San Fernando Valley and has worked on many projects ranging from paintings, drawings and, more recently, a combination between a 2-D painting and a 3-D installation.

One of Lizée’s most notable installations is a piece titled “Transfiguration,” located at the Los Angeles International Airport, which was also a combination of painting and installation, while having an aspect of symmetry as well.

Monika Ramirez Wee, the Pierce College gallery director, hosted “Gazing Into The Great Unknown,” as well as a large reception on Sept. 13 where many inquiries could speak to Lizée, as a means to encourage and inspire Pierce College’s many art students.

“The reason why I selected it was because I thought it would be something interesting for our students to see,” Wee said. “I liked the fact that it was combining both installation and painting. We teach painting, we teach sculptor, we teach ceramics and I thought ‘Oh, this is a way students could see something I could do.’”

Opened to public viewing on Aug. 27, the work itself, building upon such themes as perception, transforms the gallery into an otherworldly place, where the painting  leaps from one part of the wall and seeps into another.

“Yeah, it’s that idea of installation work really,” Lizée said. “You go into a space and (for me) I’m making the work, and the work changes based on the space. So it’s always kind of interesting to see how people come into that space and how the work impacts them, especially when they are familiar with that space and then kind of seeing ‘Oh, this is different’.

The piece itself was installed in the gallery within a two week period in July, utilizing help from students to build the project under Lizée’s guidance. Jesse Johnson, one of the Gallery Assistants, was thoroughly interested by the project due its uniqueness.

“It’s super interesting,” Johnson said. “In my opinion, it’s really different than other galleries, because at other galleries there might be a picture, and then you walk, and there is another picture, but you walk in here and it’s the full on wall, it goes all the way around. Honestly, you don’t know where it starts or ends.”  

However, the gallery not only brought in attendants of the exhibition and reception, but also curious students like Daniel Tupper.

“I noticed the door was cracked and I wanted to see what was happening inside,” Tupper said. “Then I saw Jesse over here, and he said ‘Come on in’. It was very warm and welcoming and then I saw the shapes and it caught my attention”, Tupper said.

While being up for some time now, the exhibit “Gazing Into The Great Unknown” will only last until Sept. 27 before being retrofitted once again.