This school year, the first artist to exhibit in the Castleton State College Fine Arts Center is Castleton’s own Liza Myers, a swanky and lively art professor. Myers’s show has been scheduled for the past two years, and she has been spending that time producing a fresh new body of work on display from now until Oct. 9. Six-foot large canvases depict bird nests of various species cradling eggs. (Liza) Myers unveiled the frequent symbolisms of her art, as well as her own personal history, in her presentation at Herrick Auditorium.
“Eggs are so full of promise, mystery. And the nest is a metaphor for our life,” she said in a recent interview. The Nests rest in various terrains, also symbolisms. One painting has a nest stationed in the middle of harsh rapids. One painting depicts a nest resting in a bleak and sooty desert. Another painting has a nest over an orange and red flutter that threatens to burst off the canvas.
Having a “major in mud,” Liza Myers also has constructed several sculptures for the exhibit, some hanging like paintings on the wall and some planted on the ground. While teaching 450 students in Paraguay, Myers built her own kilns. And when she was teaching and studying at Maryland Institute College of Art, she made sculptures larger than herself. She has even made cookie jars that could hold twenty gallons worth of cookies.
When asked if there was a theme to the present FAC exhibit, she replied, “Orbs; orbs and moons. A lot of the sculptures have a moon theme. I am fed by the sight of the full moon.” Accompanying these sculpted moons are the twisted and bent forms of divas and Venuses. These wavy women are paired off with either an orb or an animal.
To ask Myers about the meaning in her art is almost the same thing as asking her about her life. Through the triumphs and misfortunes of her timeline, Myers has entwined her experiences with the art she constructs, a bond that is noticeable even today. Her work is based on her own personal symbolism that has established into her life from the many places she has lived, taught and exhibited. For six years, Myers lived one and a half miles from anyone in New Mexico in a self-sustained house devised by herself and her ex-husband. There is no doubt of this while looking at the fine grains of dirt in one of her paintings that they depict a desert. In Paraguay, her pet armadillo, R2-D2, died after eating ceramic chemicals. After that, she began to make armadillo sculptures and armadillo orbs. With each important instant in Myer’s life came a new symbol to work with.
Disappointed with the bleached out slides during her presentation at Herrick, Myers took the audience to the FAC. She openly expressed her disappointment in how the slides came out, lacking all of the true and natural color that they had. Once at the gallery, Myers continued her presentation and answered questions. Modern art gaining national recognition was somehow brought up, and Myers responded with disgust; seeing some of it as unnecessary and others as displays of trying to find something new to do, to reaching the point of sheer shock value. But Myers says that it becomes easier to appreciate some of it when she gets to hear what the artist has to say about their own work.
I pity the people who enjoy what’s on display in the FAC, but did not have the chance of going to one of her presentations. To hear the stories behind her history decrypts much of the symbolism in her work and goes to show that her art is a reflection of herself.
I asked her if she could see herself having another exhibit here at Castleton. “Of Course!” she replied. “But not for another 10 years though.”
“What do you suppose will be in your art by then?” I asked.
“There’ll be water in it. There is a challenge to painting water.”
Myers currently teaches watercolor classes, and is interested in helping students develop their own techniques. She has numerous trips in mind for any students willing to sign up including one next semester with Paul Derby. The two plan on taking a group of students to Santa Fe, where Myers lived part of her life.
“It will be like going back home for me.”
Liza Myers has her own personal gallery located in Brandon Vermont.