Liza Lou (b. 1969, New York; lives and works in Los Angeles and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) first gained attention in 1996 when her room-sized sculpture Kitchen was shown at the New Museum in New York. Representing five years of solo labor, this groundbreaking work introduced glass beads, a material Lou has consistently used since then. Through its slow, hand-made production process, Kitchen became a monument to women whose labor has historically gone unrecognized. The project established Lou's exploration of materiality, social practice and confinement.
In 2005 Lou moved to KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa where she employed a team of Zulu women, versed in the tradition of beadwork, to realize a large-scale sculpture called Security Fence (2005). Working side-by-side with women artisans enabled the artist to reconsider her practice in a non-Western, historical and sociological framework and to highlight material and labor as subject matter in themselves. Over the past decade, Lou has focused on a minimal palette using the natural variations of color caused by the sweat, oils, and imperfections of the human hand as a form of tonal mark-making. In her monochromatic, pixelated, woven 'paintings' with beads, subtle variations and streaks reveal a humanity and beauty beneath the repetitive and invisible process of the work's creation.
Lou continues to work in South Africa and Los Angeles and is currently developing a major art work and sustainable employment project within a women’s prison in Belém, Brazil.
Liza Lou has had over forty solo exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world including Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong; Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art, Cape Town, South Africa (forthcoming, 2017); Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg (2016); Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY (2015); Wichita Museum of Art, Wichita, KS (2015); White Cube, London (2014); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA (2013); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2011); L&M Arts, New York (2008); Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Germany (2002); Bass Museum of Art, Miami (2001); Aspen Art Museum Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH (2000) and the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution of American Art, (2000). Select group exhibitions have included National Gallery of South Africa, Cape Town (2017); Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2017); FOR-SITE Foundation, San Francisco (2016); Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (2014); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2010); New Museum, New York (2010) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2010). Lou’s work is in numerous international public and private collections, including Albright Knox Museum; Buffalo, New York; Cleveland Museum of Art; Cleveland; DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece; de Young Museum, San Francisco; François Pinault Foundation, Palazzo Grassi, Venice; La Fondación Jumex, Mexico City; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Skira Rizzoli published the first comprehensive monograph of the artist’s career in 2010 and she is the recipient of the 2013 Anonymous Was A Woman Award and the 2002 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.