Throughout her career Lisa Sanditz (born 1973) has explored the relationship between the natural landscape and commercialisation. Her vibrant use of colour and expressive forms create richly detailed works that investigate production, urban development and globalisation.
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Lisa Sanditz was born in St Louis Missouri in 1973. In 1994, she received her BA degree from Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota and in 2001 graduated with an MFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Sanditz has also worked as the visiting artist at SUNY Purchase, the University of New Orleans and Rhode Island School of Design.
For over fifteen years, Lisa Sanditz’s pulsating, vibrantly coloured landscapes have captured the intersection between the natural world and the built environment and its effect on food production, consumption, ecology and the economy. Her interest in this subject matter is drawn from a childhood in the suburbs in which she found the landscape organised, structured and emptied through highways, shopping malls, cars and industry. Her works are therefore rooted in a fascination of how we organize ourselves in a commercial world and how we value and commodify the landscape.
This interest in the commercialized landscape has seen Sanditz focus on farming in America’s Mid-West, junk food factories in Arizona and car manufacturing in Detroit. In 2008, Sanditz was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship which allowed her to expand on her interest in depicting the built environment. Travelling to China, Sanditz produced a number of works that focused on the country’s single-industry cities, such as JinJiang (Shoe City) and Zhuji (Pearl City). In creating these works, Sanditz aimed to explore the relations between the industrial landscapes and factories in China with the commercial and economic nature of America and the objects of consumption which people use and take for granted daily.
Her exploration of these themes has focused more recently on the environmental impacts industry and commerce are having on the natural landscape. In her work Color Farm (2010), Sanditz reimagines a factory in Miami that tests the colour, fastness, strength and durability of plastic by exposing it to sunlight. Her use of a saturated colour palette is testament to the endurance and longevity of plastic in the landscape. Upstate Swamp (2015), explores this further, depicting the infiltration of plastic into the natural environment on a microscopic scale. Sanditz has also used plastics and industrial paint, such as that used to spray-paint cars, which she builds up in layers on the canvas, before sanding the surface to reveal the layers of paint, aiming to reflect the imbedded nature of man-made products within our landscapes.
Sanditz began working with ceramics in 2014, out of frustration with the limitations of painting in acrylic and oil. Visiting a cactus farm in Arizona in a particularly cold spell, she was struck by the mass of forms; the farmers had covered the cactus with Styrofoam cups to insulate the plants. Inspired, Sanditz then began to use man-made detritus such as bottle tops that she found washed up, which she pressed into the clay to create organic forms tainted by human influence.
Throughout her work, colour has remained of constant importance and she uses colour in multi-faceted ways in her landscapes. In her early works that depict California she uses colour to emulate the particular light of the west coast and to demarcate between highlight and shadow. In other works, in which Sanditz emphasises human intervention on the natural landscape, the artist uses bold and vibrant colours to point to the artificiality and plasticity of buildings and man-made structures and to contrast with the more blurred, muted tones of the natural landscape. Above all, colour is used as a de-stabilising force in her painting, in which she re-configures the canvas into a series of breaks and ruptures and streaks of colour, while simultaneously using it to delineate the boundaries between foreground and background and to unify the composition.
Exhibitions and Awards
Sanditz work has been exhibited internationally in the United States, Italy, China and Belgium and is included in the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas and the Columbus Art Museum, Ohio. Sanditz has also worked as the visiting artist at SUNY Purchase, the University of New Orleans and Rhode Island School of Design. She lives and works in New York.