University of Arizona

Lizz Denneau

In my artistic practice, I am continually influenced by narratives of human perseverance, societal class systems, vulnerability, and power dynamics. I work in a number of mediums, utilizing techniques and inspiration from my time as a fashion designer. My current fascination is a series of sculptures that I have assembled, reworked, redesigned, and embellished from found objects and various other materials. These objects call to me in the aisles of thrift stores, antique shops, yard sales, and ancestral homes. They tell me when and where they belong and often become the base of the work.

These sculptures manifest around the unspoken, buried, and erased histories of the Black diaspora, my life as a biracial Black woman, and the systems of racism that are foundational to our world and their reverberations throughout generations into modern culture. I am also interested in unearthing my ancestors and bringing them into this contemporary conversation. In some way, I collaborate with them through my research and artmaking, interpreting their stories. I am curious about the idea of a collective ancestry and generational memory.  I feel that I’m tied to the work and am always searching for modes of communicating and educating myself and others about the past.

Art-making with history and ancestry is a fluid act, often with throughlines that are not fully revealed until much later in the process.  I must remain open because this is what dictates the materials used. This is an ongoing challenge and adventure as I learn to take the back seat to my muses and develop a visual language to tell their stories as well as mine.

Original attribution: Lizz Denneau’s website