From century-old architecture to modern, artfully designed spaces, The Overlook at St. Gabriel’s offers a dramatically different community in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood. However, it wouldn’t be possible without the incredibly creative minds behind some of the one-of-a-kind art installations. Meet Lizz Aston, the amazing artist who created the mirror art installation in Maker Hall.
Lizz is a textile artist who who holds an Advanced Diploma in Crafts & Design from Sheridan College and recently completed her Bachelor of Design in Industrial Design at OCAD University. Her work is represented in public and private collections and has been exhibited across Canada, the US, Australia and South Korea. We had the opportunity to hear more about Lizz’s artistic process throughout her work on The Overlook’s dedicated art piece.
Q: What was your inspiration behind your art piece for The Overlook at St. Gabriel’s?
Lizz: “For The Overlook at St. Gabriel’s, I designed a series of six textile pattern cut-mirrors made in gold mirror, which were installed in the recessed niches on each side of the main space overlooking Maker Hall. The source patterns I was working with are directly inspired by a historic hand block-printed wallpaper that lines the inside of my trunk, which my great grandfather built and used to emigrate to Canada with. Growing up, I used this trunk as a sort of ‘hope-chest’, slowly filling it with possessions I accumulated over time to one day move into my first home with. This trunk has been featured in a number of installations and projects I’ve done over the years, so it felt good to finally work with these patterns, which hold so much memory, familial history and meaning for me. The final pattern I designed was laser-cut out of gold mirror and mounted away from the surface of the wall to create an interplay of positive and negative space and cast light and shadow. The patterns themselves are made up of detailed flourishes and floral and botanical elements arranged in a half-drop repeat pattern, similar to a traditional damask. I wanted to design work that was in-conversation with the interior elements of the space, particularly the beautiful historic stained-glass windows featured in Maker Hall.”
Q: What is the story you hope for your art to tell?
Lizz: “My practice is informed by the history and production of textiles, lace-making and the decorative arts. My process often begins with an anonymous textile pattern such as a hand-made lace doily, or in this case, a hundred-year-old handmade block-printed wallpaper, which I manipulate digitally to create a new contemporary descendent. One thing I really enjoy about making my work is the immediate connection people feel upon witnessing it, and the stories that come out of these conversations. Textiles touch our lives in such intimate ways. They hold history, memory and associations that are very personal and individual to us. My work seeks to create moments of connection for the viewer, and uses a range of materials in combination with abstracted textile patterns to generate a sense of visual pareidolia for the viewer, and play off our human tendency to seek-out patterns and meaning in visual information and stimuli.”
Q: What mediums did you use?
Lizz: “For this particular work, I documented the block-print on the inside of my trunk using my DSLR, and then cleaned up the images on Photoshop. I printed them out and went back-and-forth between hand drawing and painting elements, before re-scanning them and copying and pasting elements of the patterns to create a series of new repeats. The final work was laser-cut out of gold acrylic mirror and installed outwards from the wall to appear as if the mirrors are floating in the space.”
Q: Why did you decide to partner with The Overlook at St. Gabriel’s?
Lizz: “It has been a complete honour to partner with The Overlook and have my work featured in this large-scale, historic revitalization. Seeing images of the original abandoned space, which was in a complete state of disrepair, transformed into the immaculate space it is today has been incredible to witness! Not only did I get to collaborate on the final vision for Maker Hall through my work, but it also gave me the opportunity to excavate a little of my own personal history and ancestry, and explore these connections to my past. Participating in the project has also turned me on to the incredible work of the Boston Preservation Alliance, in consulting on the preservation and revitalization of other important, historic landmarks in the greater Boston area. I hope to one day visit a number of these spaces.”
Q: How long have you been an artist for?
Lizz: “I graduated from the Craft & Design program at Sheridan College (near Toronto, Canada) majoring in Textiles, 2009. Since then, I participated in a three-year Artist-in-Residence program at Harbourfront Centre, and have had a number of private and shared studio spaces. I’ve had my professional practice for almost twelve years now, which I guess by definition makes me a mid-career artist. Since graduating, I have gone on to take a second degree in Industrial Design, with a focus on social justice and human-centered design, and am currently back at Sheridan teaching in the program I originally graduated from! Since the pandemic began, I decided to let go of my physical studio space and move across the country for the first time. I am excited to go rogue in my practice, and have recently come to the realization that I AM my studio! This is a very liberating attitude to carry forward in my work and I’m excited to explore what that means with time.”
The Overlook at St. Gabriel’s is proud to partner with organizations like Boston Art that help to develop incomparable art collaborations with the New England area’s best architects, designers and end-users.
To see this mirror art installation and many other unique pieces, schedule your tour of The Overlook, and experience Maker Hall for yourself.
For more work from Lizz Aston, follow her on Instagram and visit her website.