Lorette C. Luzajic: Artist Feature and Q & A
Article written by Caroline Haller
Lorette C. Luzajic is a contemporary artist living and working in North York, Alberta, Canada. In addition to being a part of collections in thirty countries, her work has been displayed in museums, galleries and public spaces all over. Luzajic received a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism from Ryerson University in 2000. She completed a residency with the Ministry of Arts and Culture in Tunis, Tunisia in 2017. In addition to creating her collages, Luzajic is a poet and writer, recently releasing a book called Winter in June- a collection of small fictions inspired by various paintings. Additionally, Luzajic founded the Ekphrastic Review, a journal and global community of writers and artists.
Luzajic is one of the artists featured on Art Dealer Street. Her signature squares collaged with pop culture references, text, shapes and colors are fantastical. So many things inspire Luzajic and make their presence known in her mixed media collages. Pop culture, art history, poetry, and travel are just a few themes that pop up in her collages. One example is her collage called Andy Rabbit. (Figure 1)
Like her other works, Andy Rabbit is a fun, vibrant and colorful canvas full of textual references. The most recognizable figure in the collage is that of Andy Warhol (1928-1987), the famous pop artist. Warhol has been recontextualized by Luzajic with the addition of rabbit ears, textual references to pop art and cats.
Figure 1. Lorette C. Luzajic, Andy Rabbit, Collage on Canvas, 12 x 12 inches, 2021.
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An electric curiosity informs Luzajic as she borrows “ruthlessly” from the world around her. Luzajic has noted that an artist creating collages is “always looking, always deconstructing and reconstructing.” I love that notion! In effect, Luzajic is a lens or filter for us and how we see the world! It is like the saying, viewing the world through rose-colored lenses. In this case, we can view the world through Luzajic’s lenses. Therefore, I was so excited to ask Luzajic some questions about her artistic practice and understanding of the world!
Read on below for the Q & A:
How do you describe your art to someone who has just seen it for the first time?
Imagine this artist as a kind of photographer, observer, writer, vacuum cleaner, treasure hunter, traveler, and collector all in one. Everything I collect in my mind is like the detritus and sparkle inside a snow globe. Shake that up and sprinkle a random assortment onto a canvas.
I am obsessively gathering collage pieces, trinkets, artifacts, poems, stories, oddities, and ordinary moments. I love beautiful things and I love surprises and strange things and I love sacred things and absurd things. I have always been wired to notice things and am curious about everything. I shake up everything inside me and excavate imagery and text from my collage drawers, and I juxtapose and layer until something interesting happens.
Is there one person or style that has been most influential to your artistic style?
No! I collect influences the same way I collect imagery and text for my collages, colours and materials. And they are just as diverse. Johnny Cash’s gritty authenticity and troubadour soul is just as vital to my work as Joseph Cornell’s little boxes, an artist who collected thrift treasures and photographs the way I do. Warhol, Magritte, and Basquiat are more obvious influences. The abstract giants and the surrealists especially. Rauschenberg, who combined photography, paint, and found objects. Robert Motherwell and Antoni Tapies, who upended the mundane and combined it with poetry. And the poets and writers, especially Leonard Cohen and E.E. cummings. Marilyn Monroe, Frida Kahlo, the early photographers. The list goes on and on!
How do you come up with subjects and titles for your works?
The subjects reveal themselves as I am juxtaposing interesting imagery for collage. Sometimes the artwork follows the title- the titles are part of the collaging process. The titles are often from a snippet of text buried in the work, or from a song lyric, or line of poetry.
What role does text play in your work?
Text is really important. It is symbolic, literal, figurative, and aesthetic. I use text from sacred books, and I use advertising phrases. I use poetry and magic incantations and graffiti. I use words in different languages that I don’t understand. I use letters of the alphabet, and fragments of all of these. I cover words with other words and with images and paint. There is no need to untangle or unravel them. Much as we overhear snippets of conversation, but not the full story, and smile blandly when people speak a language we don’t understand; just as we remember significant pieces of a story or poem or song lyric but lose the rest of it or shift attention if we’re not interested, the words I use are both random and curated, both overt and hidden. They are as natural subjects for me for art as landscapes, portraits, bowls of fruit, or religious imagery are to historical artists.
Can you tell me a little bit about The Ekphrastic Review? How did it come about/ get started? And how can people get involved?
I’ve always been interested in looking at art history, from the whole world and from all eras and styles. And that has directly or indirectly been a huge source of inspiration for my own writing. Naturally, I was drawn to other literature inspired by visual art. “Ekphrastic” means, loosely speaking, “writing inspired by art.” It began as literary description of art and artifacts and in a contemporary context it is more broad than description. Art is witness, it is culture, it is personal, it stirs up memories and forges connections. It is about identity, and place, and people. Art is everything! The Ekphrastic Review was born from my converging interests in making art, looking at art, and writing poetry and stories. I wanted to create a space that was just for literary work that was focused on visual art. I wanted to show people the world of possibilities and perspectives that come from contemplating art more closely.
The ekphrastic world is a global community of writers who love art, and readers who love poetry, fiction, and art. It is for the dedicated and for the curious. It is for those just wandering through, who enjoy a museum now and again, and those who live half their lives immersed in art. It’s for those who just want to take a look around, and those who want to dive deep.
Get involved by reading the enormous archive of works. We have seven years of poetry, fiction and more. Click at random on archive months in the sidebar, as well as following the daily blog. Writers can submit their own art-inspired works by checking out the submission guidelines. And we have bimonthly challenges of curated artworks, where anyone can participate by writing in response to that prompt. We publish a selection of entries on these pieces every other week. We also have contests with guest judges, on different themes. Recent themes were “cats in art history” and “women artists.” our current contest them is the “art of tarot.” We also have workshops that include art history, discussion, and creative writing exercises. An upcoming session is on the witch in art history.
Are there themes or motifs that carry through most or several of your collages?
Over the years, it’s interesting to see the recurring themes, some of them expected or planned, and some that surprise. As in writing poetry of fiction, each creator has issues they revisit or reflect on that show up in symbols, characters, and influences. It’s almost like a kind of language. You have your own connection to those, and then your audience connects to them for their own reasons in their own way.
Layers of words, handwritten as graffiti and cut out, legible and illegible, in English and other languages, represent the layers of communication and our overt and hidden stories. The numbers nod to math, science, engineering facets of life that do not come naturally to me but are as necessary as my abstractions. Marilyn Monroe represents vulnerability and how beauty is both exalting and fleeting. Hello Kitty is about sweetness. Fish are about mystery and beauty. The anatomical or sacred hearts or the heart motif are about love, humanity, individuality, and connectivity. Hands are about creation and creativity. Antlers are about mythmaking. Flowers are about beauty. The X symbol is about the human presence, from deserts and caves to the canvas. Birds are about freedom, travel, beauty, and the unknown. The list goes on!
And finally; which do you prefer: Deep Sea or Outer Space?
I can never choose in these situations because I am fascinated by everything and embrace opposites and parallels. I have a deep connection to both of these concepts- the deep ocean of secrets, so to speak, within us, and the possibilities of the universe outside of us. I used to use planets and aliens frequently to illustrate my conviction that “we are astronauts.” I also have fish tattoos and use fish everywhere, because we are teeming with mystery worlds and fish are both aliens and relatives. Every seemingly random plant, animal, idea or possibility is connected.