Lucy Black is known for her cheeky, emotional, unsettling life-size “paper doll” mixed media works—large-scale kinetic collages that are raucous, raunchy, impressionistic, cleverly made, funny, ultimately pensive, and beguilingly weird. Working off a performance-based foundation through collage, photography, and sculpture, Black essentially photographs and/or photocopies her own body in order to assemble her cohort of paper doll avatars. Elements referencing props and costumes create hints of settings, while the figures themselves enact anatomically interpretive and frequently unsettling choreography. Some dolls exist as still framed mixed media works—but many of them are mechanical and functional and crucially, controllable by the viewers. In these and related works, Black taps a cozy nostalgia and a surreal disconcertion, the better to investigate how we construct our own shifting identities, the problematics of photography, subjectivity, and truth, and the uncanny in-between places where most of life happens.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
LUCY BLACK: I’ve always felt like an artist. Or at least some sort of creative. I’ve always been artistically expressive in my day-to-day existence, from how I dressed myself to how I decorated my room. But in truth, it took me a long time to own the title of artist. Only in college did I realize it could be my career.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work is about the link between the body and mind. The mental narration that feeds our bodies via firing synapses, and the way we physically hold it. It’s a heavy topic, or at least it can be for certain people. For this particular reason, I love to incorporate a touch of humor into my work as well.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I would love to create an infrastructure around wasted materials that could easily be reused without the complicated process of recycling. Such as fabric scraps from clothing manufacturers, or barely used cardboard from art handling. In short, I guess I’d like to be involved in modern waste management.
When was your first show?
My first show was in a bar called BRKLYN in Paris, France where I attended college. The body of work was of self-portraits that I’d made in the darkroom.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
My last show was an accumulation of all the work I did during my Arts at Blue Roof residency. I will be involved in two group shows this coming fall where I’ll show some of my framed paper dolls as well as a massive spider sculpture. More information will be available soon on my Instagram.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
A large theme in my work revolves around spiders… I would love to make a giant spider’s nest with Louise Bourgeois. I would also die to collaborate with (in no particular order) Penny Slinger, Ana Mendieta, David Hammons, Kara Walker, Pipilotti Rist, Greer Lankton, and Senga Nengudi.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
Teardrop by Massive Attack. On repeat.
Website and social media handles, please!
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