Regarde le Ciel, a WordPress blog (2016-2019), began as a fluke, an experiment, a self-imposed challenge. At the suggestion of a colleague, I started a “newsletter” and reluctantly began writing out ideas, thoughts, musing, and questions on the process of producing a performance that was messy and confusing at the time. I sent these writings to an audience of about a hundred friends and art community acquaintances on a weekly basis as email. Eventually, an image accompanied the text. These were generally photos I had taken which on occasion illustrated the language. Others were intuitive juxtapositions. Over several months, I began to enjoy this regular writing exercise. I put no pressure on myself. My inexperience as a writer granted me permission to generate the writing quickly and share it without self-censor or judgment. This was radically different from my regular artistic practice and it felt liberating. My audience grew and began responding with images, texts or often words of encouragement and appreciation. This was a lovely and unexpected consequence.
In October of 2017, I began a series of sequential posts labeled “Woman #1 – #100” which ran until September 2019. Initially inspired by my research and subsequent VR project, “Rockhaven Creepers Trilogy”, shot at the Rockhaven Sanitarium, these posts are short stories or poems of female characters who were institutionalized. Ultimately the “100 Women” stories broadened in scope to include autobiographical moments woven into imagined characters, female identities I had read about, seen in films or instants from the lives of women I know or have observed. The language ranges from descriptive – textures, objects, and colors, to fragile internal dialogues and expressions of biting anger. Naturally, the one hundred accounts reference a range of emotional and psychological states. There are stories about violent acts, isolation, despair, and calm resolve. The complex women I write illustrate the rich and powerful state of female strength and resilience.
Elizabeth Leister engages a practice that includes video, performance, drawing and virtual reality. Time and memory are key themes that are woven together often through the gesture of drawing as a performative act. Temporality and connection to place are at the core of her work where travel, loss and memory are illuminated. Leister’s work has been presented at the Torrance Art Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Morris Gallery at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Museum, and the Delaware Museum of Art; The Drawing Center, Art in General, Apex Art and P.S. 122 in New York, Counterpath in Denver and Highways Performance Space and Gallery in Santa Monica in addition to various artist run spaces. Leister has performed at LACE, Perform Chinatown, Beyond Baroque and Electric Lodge in Los Angeles. Her networked performances have been presented at the Cardiff School of Creative & Cultural Industries in Wales, the Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery at the University of Reno, Outpost Artists Resources in New York and in Low Lives 2 & 4 among other venues. She is the recipient of an ARC grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation in Los Angeles, and grants through The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and The Leeway Foundation of Philadelphia. She was awarded a 2014-15 COLA Fellowship grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs in Los Angeles. Leister earned an MFA from The Milton Avery Graduate School of the Fine Arts at Bard College and a BFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University.