Lizzie Thibodeau

Echoes of Breath, St. Mary’s Art Center, April 2020 – August 2020 

nylon rope wrapped with red ribbon

This work has taken me through a journey of exploring nontraditional materials and seeking clarity in understanding repetitive everyday habits. I am interested in the never-ending actions I perform seeking to calm my mind.

Queen Quilt
used dryer sheets, found objects; sewing machine and teacart

santa cruz, polaroids

eggshells, found objects; grinding stone, vase, mason jars, and China Lillie bulbs
6’ x 5’ x 2’

watercolor and dried egg membranes
30″ x 42″

My main goal in this work was to transform my language around being a “victim” of emotional trauma, and to move forward with a language that shifts to “survivor.” My work shows layers of material, layers of time, and layers of decay. The materials that I have collected are discarded traces of everyday occurrences in my life. Working with these materials and creating something beautiful is a metaphor for my own lived experience. Much of my practice has been reflecting on challenges that I have faced, and though there are tough times, I feel that I’ve made a beautiful life – these challenges make up who I am, and I want to celebrate and acknowledge that hard work.

I reflect on my history, the women in my life before me, and I realize I am a product of their choices. I am built of layers – some tenuous times, some joyful times – an accumulation of experiences. I have photographed ghost towns. I am drawn to the breakdown of buildings, and what is left over to stand alone. The photographs mostly consist of images looking in through windows, capturing a glimpse of the decomposition inside. There is wallpaper falling, curtains ripped – the residue of a story long abandoned. Ultimately these photographs are beautiful to me.

In reflecting on emotional care, I wanted to address the hard work that I try to do in healing old wounds. I have generated a piece titled “Grinding”– this piece is framed by a six by three foot white platform, raised four inches off the ground to create a stage. Atop this platform are a large pile of cracked eggshells, a traditional corn grinding stone, and a tall glass vessel. On the floor in front of this interactive installation are a number of mason jars – some are empty and the rest are filled with crushed eggshells and china lily bulbs in varying stages of growth. This installation asks the viewer to engage in the process, creating a physical representation of doing the emotional work we need to create a successful life. 

This work is currently installed is an old hospital in Virginia City which has been converted into an Art Center. The operation of this hospital was during the gold rush, and it housed many miners seeking riches. The building has a fascinating history, and the aged wearing of the interior is what drew me to showing in the space. All of these elements were the perfect canvas to showcase the work; the environment and the work are coexisting as a marriage, each lending elements in partnership. I like thinking that my work is living in a place that cared for many hurt souls from generations past. Perhaps a place where my old ghost has some company. 

— Lizzie Thibodeau