Liisa Nelson is a 2018 MFA graduate of the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. She completed a post baccalaureate program at the University of Colorado Boulder (2015) and has a BFA in 3D Media from Pacific Lutheran University (2009). She has been teaching and working in ceramics for over a decade and has shown work in solo and group exhibitions across the United States and internationally.
Nelson grew up in Montana in a place where people don’t often leave. Her father is a Lutheran minister and her mother is a nurse: body and soul. The studies of art, science, poetry and Daoism have been indispensable in her life and work. She is insatiably curious.
As there is oil in sesame seed
and a spark in flint
thus your Beloved is in your body.
Wake it if you can.
-Kabir Sahib (15th. century Indian mystic)
Upright, symmetry is a body, two breasts pressed against paper, a gender-defiant set of lobes grabbed into existence in clay, a pair of wet red eyes staring out like life-magnets, negative ions seeking positive charge: completion.
Laid down, symmetry is a water line - a reflecting pool, an emblem of nourishment and gathering, a mirror for life to see itself in, still and clear, or turbid and skewed by wind and tossing debris.
As I look into the shadows of my practice, I ask materials to reveal something invisible— what one experiences beyond what can be named. I problematize expected relationships. I interrupt myself. I do violence to my own forgone conclusions. I don’t think… just take action with material. Then I step back and look. I walk and talk with friends and listen to music and drink wine. I read surrealist fiction and ancient Chinese sacred texts. I look at the drawings of children. Later I go back to the work and read it, reorient, glob and flake it with flotsam and jetsam until I feel its completion. Intuition and a sensory, wholistic approach are fundamental to my practice. My experience of life provides fodder. Myth, mysticism, histories of magic, poetry, thrift store shopping, haute couture fashion, light on a leaf in the morning are equally valid inspirations.
At its best, my work is both felt and seen. It muddles materials and ideas, images and objects, body and mind, nature and culture, foreground and background. It disturbs hierarchies and acknowledges the contingency of life and death. Curiosity is its heart.
All rights reserved.
by LIISA NELSON
Over and Over, Like I Did
I will never unimbibe like I did over
& over deal with the remains
Trust in no god everywhere
A brush drags across I will never unimbibe
Mallards mate for life clean clean the mark
Of your lines turned out missing it
Nothing happens for centuries
Read all the books become everything else
In the trees your dirty graphite deal
With the remains imaginary morning
The world your face make love
Where is the sameness
Like I did over & over
Counterpart letting go letting go
Sleep land around us what is gone?
Green red alive dead
Line blend long wait
Mallards mate for life green red
Over the edges what is it?
Crayon stuck in my
Mate for life
Pursue or home set my apple core down
(If I) walk backwards in a line will the years start over?
Over The dog your black eyes
We could build something
Green to black another duality
Fall back fall
You never finish all the milk
Work early I’ll get it later crumble into ourselves
Contentment how are you attained?
Mouths covered a pair quite give enough
Completion quite give enough obsession
My long hair reach out over and over I
Lover Letting completion two
Off on leaving supple ample
Held up down
Enough what you gave me what once
Your drawings smoke cigarettes sickening
Eating an apple broken longing
I’m gone our land Is this the stuff of centuries ?
Maybe it was always me apple always
Impatient skin fall take your with me ]
In or out or in out what is
Marriage? another you’re here you’re gone
Probably you would go red to black
Broth in your soup dragonfly green
Name the thing without saying it
When is it over a promise
I always why see you tomorrow
Love I turned over we apart for different reasons
Even though you want to
Your face in the morning
I want to be you probably
In the doorway your presence it’s over
Do anything to leave come home
Over still light obsessed myself I don’t
A perfect triangle
Other smoke in keep to yourself
Double double corpse eventually anyway
Myself I won’t you again
The milk is in the bowls
Lover, every lover
Under a leaf watching its curl loosen,
Spread over the elements my carbon offering redoubled
An unfastening extends to the waiting made of the greenest parts
I, Wearing your eyes as a garment, lay down like a baby
leaving out syllables of what I wanted for you in a daughter
The cry in your belly goes as a tonal shift, a spreading asymmetry.
It goes as coins the size of eyes into a deep fountain.
Now your ballast is in place I can finally say this:
I am a darkness dancer, sporting fine light-eating intricacies.
My hair is a mile long and dragging on the ocean floor\ the ground
Is becoming a whole wave and a grower of a dream of arrangements
Along a metal line imperceptible but
Re-become (as if to make a shift.) I talk
To my lover in the morning Love(r)
In the morning to let go of what is enough to
Make a change completely dissolve
Your skin —incarnate object— makes mine withdraw into something
I don’t recognize five phase key
Beneath reduced chrome crystals. In the chrysalis
The caterpillar completely dissolves before reforming
Into a new kind of creature
So slow one cannot see it moving even though it
Always is Rhythms bring observers
That blush of blood through your skin brings me
To see you unfurl foreign organ love(r)
In the morning- to let go
Half an hour before I’m awake but the south
Pole holds still and a builder of a dream
Of a forest and everything beneath
Us moves around it still smell the rain
And step back through the sloped window punch the fighting
Spiders to determine a winner collapse
Like a sea creature under the weight [wait] unscore
What has fallen out of this instrument rattle
Down this perspiring loop
If a Silent dancer can perform through Millennial bodies still
What more is possible (?) to love someone you’ve never met
Till now by looking in their eyes to swell into a massive space
dust again, weld the teeth to the ends of the fingertips, lay
Down like a baby, become overtaken by a swarm of peace.
Know something about love by moving slowly. love
Someone you’ve never met. look at their eyes.
Pour a pool of water onto the floor wash in it,
Like a desperate fish hold your lung in the palm
Of your hand
Hold a shell to the parts of your body you most wish
Could weep foreign organ weep with the body
You most wish you could embody remember
To breathe into your stomach your expansion will continue
To hold you you can trust this
Go down, origin tap, my particular emblem. As a body
how you watered me down when I slumped in dry dirt. I
bent under your wave particle pattern I was to fold under
white-tipped sacrament (My waist bends in many directions.
My knees and ankles and neck also bend)
Could I exorcise nostalgia? Time is a trumpeter, wounding tyrant
(brash mean queen) Universe, you have wrecked us, you
did it over and over Universe thaw and return arbiter
of one-last-tries selves mender,
Her liquid lines are amassing clusters, rush slowed —the tunnels
that play the old rush-rhythm, scared of the day, and, yes, they
will turn off. Gush give up. Dammed river, log-tied flow strike
That star-built organ pounds in your
neck, the artery slightly flicking in horizontal light —it casts its own little \
sideways shadow. Who will be my surrogate when you leave?
I follow it, but cannot see its back. Deliverer, my other, stay.