Studio Session with Lizzy Lubitsky

Chris MalloyFebruary 5, 2021
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Lizzy Lubitsky has made sculptures shown from Rome to Washington state. Many push the limits of what sculpture can be.

Consider “Toast.” The 2015 installation featured a patch of pine wood afloat in a full bathtub – where Lubitsky sat in a swimsuit. On the plank was a toaster. The toaster was electrified, plugged into a nearby wall.

Lubitsky, a 25-year-old interdisciplinary artist, fell for sculpture at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, home until she moved to Phoenix in 2018. Discovering sculpture “was such an eye-opening experience for me,” she says, “because it embodies everything from video art to performance art to physical art installation.”

Today, she works just off Grand Avenue within Snood City, an art collective known for its neon shop. She took up painting just last year, and canvases loud with bluish cowboy heads, square patterning and iridescent teeth festoon her workspace. Using a range of tools and materials, she builds engrossing sculptures.

One: “Automated Response,” a phonebooth walled in two-way mirrors. When you enter, you can see only yourself reflected. Pick up the phone, and a voice chatters away. Looking in from the outside, “everybody can see you perfectly,” Lubitsky says. “You’re basically on display.”

Another: “Big Mel,” a giant ribbed lemon made from materials salvaged from an awning shop.

During a recent Pittsburgh residency, Lubitsky exhibited “Captcha.” The project consisted of gumball machines that, when turned, changed the gallery’s lighting or made rain appear by a window. “Captcha” refers to the questions – Can you select the streetlamps in this picture? What is 8 + 13? – that websites use to discern your
humanity. Ideas about how deeply digital culture and data have infiltrated our lives captivate Lubitsky. “I really think that is a defining aspect of our culture,” she says. “Like, are you a robot? I don’t know.”

Crime Podcasts
Touching up the last fine details of a painting can be “so boring.” Lubitsky likes to “throw on a [true crime] podcast and get really deep into a murder and kind of forget that I’m painting.”
Crime Junkie is a go-to.

As a student, Lubitsky enjoyed making “wiggly turns” when cutting sculpture materials with a bandsaw. She replicates these with a jigsaw. “It’s good for an artist on the go because it can cut through multiple things,” she says.

Neon Lights
A true nocturnal person, Lubitsky works from roughly 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., though in a space alive with neon. “It can be really cool when I turn off my warmer light and let the neon shine.”

Juggling Balls
Lubitsky tosses her “most important tools” during breaks. She has balls that light up, ideal for night juggling. During daylight, she prefers regular old tennis balls “because they bounce right up if you drop them.”

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