Lisa Solberg doesn’t do pretty. When she paints a canvas or creates an assemblage, the results can be complex. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I always see my work as a sort of natural explosion,” says the artist. “Sometimes the work has the energy of the explosion and sometimes it has the energy of the quiet once the dust has settled.”
Solberg intends her work to create positive energy rather than discomfort. “I like to imagine my works acting as sacred spaces— carving out a moment in time for introspection or exaltation for the viewer.” That ambition is rooted in the way in which she understands her own life and the way in which she operates in the world. Outgoing and active, Solberg has still always had an appreciation for alone time, which in her case came when she sat down to make art. “It was mainly what I did to be alone. Times of introspection. It has always been a solitary practice and meditation in that sense. I have always loved my own space and spending time by myself.”
One of five, Solberg spent a lot of time in the woods with her siblings and friends. Growing up in the natural world—a rock underfoot or a star in the sky—propels her creativity. “Comets, cosmic events, the power of nature visible in storms, rivers, waterfalls, and strong winds that can almost knock you over—these types of things move me the most and inspire my work.” In high school, Solberg took classes at the Art Institute of Chicago and ultimately majored in art at the University of Colorado. After getting her degree, she traveled the world skiing before settling down in Los Angeles, where she lived for more than a decade before relocating to New York this year.
Her canvases sometimes seem collage-like, with discrete forms in active play or flowing with an all-over dynamism. Her sculptures, such as Swoosh—in which a basketball breaks through the cane seating of a Marcel Breuer Cesna Chair—can possess a sort of surrealist edge. Working in various media (Solberg also writes) keeps her busy and balancing time and her creative impulse takes some doing. “I cast a large net over the materials and media that I utilize to keep things as fresh as possible. Over the past couple years, there has definitely been a focus on having a more concise and curated approach, and this has been very fruitful for me. I am on a journey that I want people to grasp and feel connected to, so it’s important to be consistent. Regardless of what the material is, I have a pretty militant schedule for myself day to day.” That means no random bouncing around from one activity to the next, no picking up the phone every time it pings. “I have at least four hours of painting in my studio every day, one hour of writing, and one hour of reading,” shares Solberg. “The rest of my time is filled with my rescue dog, yoga, exploring the city, and spending time with friends.”
Among Solberg’s latest work are three concrete sculptures that have been installed at The Aurora Highlands, a new master- planned community in Denver. “I have been working with this concept of totems, shrines, and creating a sacred space for self-reflection and finally, liberation,” she explains. “This journey started years ago for me when I began creating ‘mind maps’ as a way of understanding myself and how I relate to the outside world. I started to see symbols within these mind maps that began to describe the nature of existence to me. These symbols are now what drive the aesthetic and context of my work, both paintings and sculptures.”
Human beings are always being buffeted between surrender and control, between knowing and not knowing, between traveling and arrival. Not everyone has the time to reason it all out, but Solberg’s artistic process attempts to. She isn’t offering any sure answers. But cast your eyes her way and you just might begin to make sense of it all.
For more information, visit lisasolberg.com, follow her on Instagram @lisasolbergworldwide.