Liz Clayton Scofield (they/them/their) is an interdisiciplinary artist, writer, wanderer, public crier, and collaborator currently based in Baltimore, MD. They received their MFA from Indiana University, Bloomington, and their BA from Vanderbilt University. They are interested in object performance, queer strategies and practices, Becoming self, transformation, healing and recovery. Their work has been featured in publications including Number Magazine, Nashville Arts Magazine, and Wussy Mag. Exhibitions and performances include Cucalorus Festival, SeedSpace, Fuller Projects, and Noise Gallery. They have been an artist-in-residence with Cucalorus and the School of Making Thinking, and they also work with Cucalorus Festival as installation coordinator. They are 70 percent water, 100 percent heart, and they wear it on their sleeve. Two of the most influential people in their life are cats.
Towards art in an imaginary future
Liz Clayton Scofield, 2014
Queerness is not here yet. Queerness is an identity. Put another way, we are not yet queer. We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality. We have never been queer, yet queerness exists for us as an identity that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness’s domain.
— Jose Muñoz, Cruising Utopia (2009)
- A queer art that is not object-based.
- A queer art that resists commodification.
- A queer art that doesn’t look like art.
- A queer art that is radical and revolutionary.
- A queer art that lives, fucks, breathes, eats, and dies.
- A queer art that cries, loves, bleeds, and cums.
- A queer art that defies categorization.
- A queer art that is personal.
- A queer art that is political.
- A queer art that increases representation and visibility of the diverse range of identities that exist.
- A queer art that reveals the limited scope of narratives that are shown in media today.
- A queer art that does not look pretty. It can look pretty but this is irrelevant. It should look pretty if it needs to be pretty, but its value is not in its prettiness. Its value should also be irrelevant.
- A queer art that reveals its own pain and struggle in its continuous fight simply to exist.
- A queer art that uses its pain and struggle as a strategy to effect change.
- A queer art that embraces humor, that doesn’t take itself seriously, that reveals the absurdity surrounding it.
- A queer art that is serious.
- A queer art that embraces contradiction.
- A queer art that doesn’t assume authority, that not only questions the society in which it exists but also questions itself.
- A queer art that forces the viewer to question themselves.
- A queer art that does not assume that it is art.
- A queer art that is not intellectual or artistic masturbation, that does not concern itself with conversations that only happen in bubbles, that is not self-indulgent, that does not only comment on art itself.
- A queer art that does not fuck itself and no one else.
- A queer art that does not ask itself, Is this art?
- A queer art that dissolves boundaries between the artist and what the artist produces.
- A queer art that does not produce.
- A queer art that believes conversation is an essential creative act.
- A queer art that is not easy but does not necessarily require much effort.
- A queer art that breaks at its seams and deteriorates, dissolves, that doesn’t pass the test of time because its relevance is now.
- A queer art that denies tradition, that rebels against canons, that separates itself from the history of art.
- A queer art that is not about making but about doing.
- A queer art that is not about production but about action.
- A queer art that disrupts the heteronormative cultural stasis by any means necessary.
TL;DR I play with myself.
I have been collaborating with the LiZez, a series of toys I created in my image, since 2015. In my practice, I draw from Beuys’ ideas of Social Sculpture: “how we mold and shape the world in which we live: SCULPTURE AS AN EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS; EVERYONE AN ARTIST.” In my ongoing transformational sculpture, I am my material, my Self as Readymade. I learn how to be. I explore my relationship to myself as object, the LiZez, and through this relationship, I transform myself.
In December 2014, I went to Dayton, Ohio, and had my body scanned in a mall kiosk next to Santa. From five full body scans, I created a series of toys. In February 2015, the LiZez were in tangible form. Plastic figures in my likeness, less than 2 inches in stature.
The LiZez and I collaborate in a variety of media. Our collaboration is an ongoing experimental performance I think of as “learning how to live,” which leads into a corresponding performance called “living.” These ongoing performances inform each other continuously. They overlap, blur, flow into each other. Sometimes they are indistinguishable. In fact, sometimes I think they are the same, and sometimes they become so strangely different, but they are always active. At least, part of the process is learning to maintain them actively, always.
A subset of both “learning how to live” and “living” is “loving,” followed by “breathing” and “coping with anxiety,” as well as “wandering/wondering,” “getting lost,” and “diving into deep watery oceans repeatedly, excitedly, hopelessly, and yet also amazingly resiliently.” “Healing” is also a rather significant work in conjunction with this overarching project/performance.
Materials include but are not limited to: love, shame, pain, drinking problems, recovery, anxiety, meditation, sweat, blabber poeticism, astrology, heartbreak, cross-country moves, loneliness, disconnection, isolation, gender troubles, body image issues, money problems, babe problems, family problems, mommy issues, daddy issues, depression, self-care, bike rides, yoga, shared meals, beets, cats, beautiful conversations, lingering hugs, and Becoming, also Being, etc.
One aspect: “learning how to live” and “living” are ongoing experiments in the cultivation of self love and compassion, and what radical self love/compassion and positivity can do as energies in the world. It is truly a scientific investigation of ripples. (I can feel your vibrations in me now. It is data. Your energy thrusting into me, it is data, and I will record it for the benefit of science. For the benefit of science, please keep your heart open, flowing, pulsing. For science. Or Love. Art? Hearts.)
In “learning how to live”/“learning how to love myself (so I can heal myself and love others and bring healing into the world, etc.)”, I am interested in a process of Becoming. Through the collaboration, I change. I’ve transformed mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’ve lost ~105 pounds, gotten sober (going on three years), emerged from a decade of depression, learned to cope with anxiety.
I’ve changed, digging up the core that is me and bringing myself to light: a radical, radiant being. I find myself smiling, chatting and connecting with strangers, climbing trees, being me, being strange, dancing, floating, healing, finding peace even through uncertainty, developing deep and meaningful connections to others, being genuinely proud of friends and acquaintances for their achievements, wanting life fully, getting out of bed. I’m excited to get out of bed, excited to live, grateful for the life I get to live, able to make art, able to be art, able and excited. Skinned knees, falling out of trees, falling in love over and over and over with life and with you and falling on the floor and falling but being able to get up and being able to be sad and be comfortable in the sadness, open to the sadness, open to the heartbreak of living because I know that is beautiful, too. What a terrifying beautiful mess of living!
As I continue Becoming, the LiZez remain, a solid state of being. I learn to love them, even as their physical state marks my low point, or a least the turning point on my current trajectory. I brought them into existence for my own purposes—for my own Becoming, so that their birth marks the beginning of a new life for me, and leaving them at that static point, my own point of departure, where I leave them repeatedly, everyday, over and over, continuously abandoning them. Even in my deepest love for them, I abuse them. Yet also we will always remain the same, even as we grow more and more different. We continue our collaboration, but I wonder if they will grow to resent me. Can I ever love them enough to justify this exploitation? Will they ever love me as truly and deeply as I love them?