Interview: Liz Stubbs & Penny Treese
Luca Curci talks with Liz Stubbs & Penny Treese during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2021 and THE BODY LANGUAGE 2021, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
We are a collaborative duo-photographer Liz Stubbs and encaustic fine artist Penny Treese- who visually explore living into our unknowns as we choose to un-limit our artistic creating. We create from seeds of intention and honor our intuitive process as the work becomes what it wants to be. Our mixed-media collections arise from our commitment to creating work infused with freedom and expansive energies, mirroring the inspiration and vitality we feel in how we live our own lives-releasing old stories + shedding stale patterns- as we celebrate the stillness and exuberance of immersing in an exquisite presence of possibility, a sense of timeless time.
Luca Curci – How did you get to photography? Do you remember why you took your first professional photo?
Liz Stubbs – I am grateful to create with my amazing art partner and friend Penny Treese, so we’ll share a bit about our processes as they meld and emerge into exciting new territory for us creatively. As the photographer half of our art duet, my name is Liz Stubbs, and my first camera was a Polaroid Land Camera that developed each image within a minute or two of making the photo. I was 7 or 8 when, buoyed by this magicalness, I devoted myself to backyard turtles and flora as well as knee-high family portraits. For a shy introvert, the camera became how I explored and understood the world, and more recently, how I have come to best understand myself. For years I thought of myself as a street photographer, but in exploring my own presence in my street photography I became transfixed by the power portraits hold to transform how we see ourselves. I count my first professional photograph as a portrait I shot for an author friend’s publisher for his book jacket. He still uses it years later. But photography is only one aspect of our collaborative work, blending photography and mixed media. My art partner Penny Treese is a renowned fine artist and brings an entire universe to play with our prints. She intuitively alchemizes photos with rainwater, encaustic, alcohol ink, resin, even wine and hot sauce, transforming each visual expression with a multi-layered enrichment that ignites the flame at the heart of each piece into a symphony.
Penny Treese – I’ve lived inspired to create art since age 5, and the passion to devour and craft multiple art forms is simply in my DNA. My parents nurtured my love of art and provided me with every type of lesson from local artists throughout my youth. They encouraged art school and supported every move that brought me closer to living my dream of being a working artist. I’ve been blessed with the rises and falls of the “artist-life tide”. I truly see the highlights as delicious icing, and the struggles are where I’ve grown most exponentially. I’m grateful to win awards, be juried into exhibitions and sell many works, however, my most glowing moments occur while I’m teaching art and helping others find joy and self-love. Partnering with Liz in realizing our new art mission to guide women in celebrating their truest inner selves has become paramount in my art journey.
LC – How much is the editing process important? How’s yours?
LS – Editing is fascinating for us and ever-changing editing brings an entirely new life to the work that begins as a photographic portrait and ends as mixed media art. Photographically, I may play to accentuate the feeling and energy, whether it wants to be whispery or much more dynamic.
PT – I listen closely to Liz’s images and ask of each how it wants to bloom. As I meditate with the portraits, each image asks for a unique method of transformation to bring forth its fullest spirit and that of the person in the image. Whether it begs for a splatter of wine, a sprinkling of spice, or to be crumpled, torn and reconstructed in a new way, I honor what feels like it dances with their soul.
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
LS&PT – For us, we create intuitively. We often ask ourselves, what wants to happen? How does this FEEL juiciest? We bring the energy of play and discovery to our creative process. Intentionally exploring with open hearts we feel connects us to a spiciness, a vitality that exceeds anything we might plan.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it like your medium of expression?
LS&PT – We feel our art is a celebration. It is a voice without words that expresses our joy in energizing light-whether the radiance within each of us or the shimmer available in every moment. When we choose to focus on connecting to light, we elevate our experience and open to limitlessness.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
LS&PT – From the time of cave dwellers who imprinted their hands and etchings on stone, ART MATTERS. It is a language we all speak, no matter what country or culture is home. Especially in tumultuous times, expressing our truths, expressing from our hearts, and creating art intentionally from inner knowing and love is healing for us as creators and we hope to heal for the world we create for.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
LS&PT – Our three works “Brink of Becoming”, “Return to Wisdom”, and “What Color is Today”, each is infused with energies of curiosity and presence. “Brink of Becoming” was born from a creative play session in a pool. It embodies for us a marriage of nostalgia for simpler times but also empowering freedom in the present moment. Penny enveloped the image in beeswax, pigmented shellac then set fire to the entire piece to emulate aquatic bubbles. “Return to Wisdom” is a soul dance of finding and honoring our true north, our inner knowing. “What Color is Today?” is our celebration portrait- capturing the zesty juicy energy present in every moment, when we choose to see through that lens.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? How did it inspire you?
LS&PT – We are curious about the theme of IDENTITIES as well. Each of our works in the exhibition reflects an active inquiry into our relationship with ourselves. Perhaps we see a fresh aspect of ourselves as we evolve our dialogue with the works. We personally feel our work reminds us and challenges us to notice: Are we present? Are we true to our inner knowing? Are we open to becoming, to unexpected? Are we tuned to our source of energy?
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
LS&PT – We love the fluidity ITSLIQUID grows between all participants in art, performance and design. Their global platform is a dynamic relationship that gives voice to exploration and expression, connecting us in creativity and celebration.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
LS&PT – We resonate with the innovation we see ITSLIQUID GROUP create for artists across the globe in exhibitions, features and partnerships. Most impressive is the passionate commitment we experienced first-hand as the team pivoted with shutdown delays but insured the exhibition mounted at the first opportunity.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
LS&PT – Absolutely! We felt informed at every step of the process and we’re grateful for your guidance in shipping our works internationally. Most importantly, we felt appreciated as artists in all our communications with the ITSLIQUID team. You all are DELIGHTFUL and a breath of positivity.