By Sharon Irish
Often controversial and sometimes even shocking to audiences, the work of California-based artist Suzanne Lacy has challenged viewers and participants with personal accounts of traumatic events, settings that require people to assume uncomfortable positions, multisensory productions that evoke emotional as well as intellectual responses, and even flayed lambs and beef kidneys. Lacy has experimented with ways to claim the power of mass media, to use women’s consciousness-raising groups as a performance structure, and to connect her projects to lived experiences. The body and large groups of bodies are the locations for her lifelike art, revealing the aesthetics of relationships among people. In this critical examination of Suzanne Lacy, Sharon Irish surveys Lacy’s art from 1972 to the present, demonstrating the pivotal roles that Lacy has had in public art, feminist theory, and community organizing. Lacy initially used her own body—or animal organs—to visually depict psychological states or social conditions in photographs, collages, and installations. In the late 1970s she turned to organizing large groups of people into art events—including her most famous work, The Crystal Quilt, a 1987 performance broadcast live on PBS and featuring hundreds of women in Minneapolis—and pioneered a new genre of public art. Irish investigates the spaces between art and life, self and other, and the body and physical structures in Lacy’s multifaceted artistic projects, showing how throughout her influential career Lacy has created art that resists racism, promotes feminism, and explores challenging human relationships.
Published by University of Minnesota Press, 2010Softcover with 288 pages7 x 10 inches