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Photo of Lisa Smith Williamson

Lisa Smith Williamson

Memphis, TN, United States

My work is currently driven by aquatic metaphors and the notion of flux and movement. I especially love the Heraclitus quote from Fragments: "No man steps into the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man." I am interested in facilitating moments of recognition, the movement of being in the world with others, extensions of care, and the cobbling together of fragments of memories of shared experience. This work was born from a culmination of factors including the BLM protests and the closing of beaches and pools due to Covid. Bridging the gap between my writing on monuments and memorials, I look to public art that works to heal a community in order to shape a new public. My current work considers a coming community, or the idea of becoming community, and the ways in which healing is denied to the public. While I find swimming and floating healing, the U.S. has a long history of denying access to water, in essence denying the public the power of aquatic healing. From segregated public pools, lack of government-funded life guards and water safety education, water-front properties that limit access to open water, and the body made vulnerable due to weight stigma or transphobia, something as innocuous-seeming as swimming or floating becomes a terrifying experience. The public is denied the benefits of absolute freedom stemming from the fear of their own body in water, or the fear of sharing the water with others. Although not directly aquatic in nature, the imagery I'm currently exploring derives from cairns placed in intertidal zones, where a variety of creatures have learned to adapt and live together while conditions are harsh and ever-changing. As an interdisciplinary artist and writer, and PhD candidate in aesthetic theory at IDSVA, I teach studio art at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. My research and dissertation on dismantling white supremacy in, and through, public art has led to an exploration about what makes a work of art a monument or memorial, and why. Previous participation at ArtPrize led to an inclusion on the Juror's short list for installation (2015 "Something Old Something New" exhibited at Monroe Community Church), and in 2016 the installation "Re-Rooted" was exhibited at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art.

Lisa's ArtPrize Entries

These are Lisa's official ArtPrize entries from this year and past years.

  • Photo of Intention Seekers

    Intention Seekers

    2021 ArtPrize Entry Lisa Smith Williamson
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Lisa's Past Work

These are images of past work that Lisa has done.

  • Lisa's past work
  • Lisa's past work