Lisa Wade is a conceptual artist who has worked in the socio-political realm for a number of years. Her interests in symbols, found objects, and news media have allowed her to create an iconography that is at once personal and universal. Wade uses unconventional but historically significant materials, like tar and honey, in order to provoke dialogue about their literal and metaphorical value. Her artistic interpretations of current world events have been called prophetic, cynical, and deeply committed to social justice.
For the Nationbuilding series Wade painted with tar to evoke the current struggle for oil, and sewed hybrid flags for nations that will never exist, imposing American ideals on the countries most resistant to them. Incorporating world events and the “signs of the times” into her (end of an) Empire series, Wade created falling stars from American flags and claustrophobic constellations from American and Iraqi flags. Inspired by alarmist reactions to impending terrorist attacks, she constructed homemade Shields and Lances. Her performance Anonymous Action/Anonymous Product showed a nation suffocated by its dependence on oil. World Reset and Shelter attempts to cancel out the ills and distractions of contemporary culture by pushing a visual reset button on a global scale.
Lisa Wade was born in Washington, D.C. in 1972 and raised in the Highlands of Abingdon, Virginia. She earned a BFA in Studio Art at Wheaton College and an MFA in Painting at American University, during which time she also studied in Rome. Since 2000, Wade has shown her paintings, installations, and videos throughout North America, Italy, and Russia. She currently lives and works in Italy.
Feminist Artist Statement
As an American living overseas, I am daily switching between English and Italian, American and European perspectives, literal and metaphorical meanings. I often complete sentences in whichever language offers the more descriptive finish. In my art, I use diverse materials as I do different languages. No one material is more significant than the others, I use them all together to express myself to the fullest.
I work as an artist who happens to be an American woman. The facts of my birth are central to my identity, but I hesitate to say that that they define my art completely. Certainly an American worldview shapes my perspective and is actively present in the American iconography I use in my socio-political pieces. However I view my country’s political theater at a distance and with sympathy towards endangered parties. This critical distance affects the way I filter information and incorporate world events into my work. Had I been born male, I think my art still would be the same. Perhaps I would have had a more awkward hand in sewing my flags, since not many people believe it necessary to teach young boys to sew. But then again, my father instructed me in woodworking even though I was a girl, so now I am able to make my own frames on which I stretch my paintings.
I realize that I am much indebted to the feminist movement. The glass ceiling of the art world was cracked by feminist artists before me. Growing up I was told I could be anything I wanted to be, and I believed it. I became it. I do not define my achievements, my expectations, myself by my gender, but by my unique capacities and perspective. Though I am a woman, it is my individuality that defines me and my art.