Artist Lita Albuquerque on Regeneration After the Fire
From the ArtCenter College of Design’s Bi-Weekly Podcast
ArtCenter College of Design’s bi-weekly podcast features intimate interviews with leading artists examining the ideas fueling their work and how the creative process can be a catalyst for change—personally, professionally and globally. Hosted by ArtCenter President Lorne M. Buchman, these conversations examine the many ways in which artists and designers are enriching our lives. ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education; and our mission statement—Learn to create. Influence change—lies at the center of all we do.
Lita Albuquerque is an artist whose body of work has often defied the strictures of convention and, ultimately, canvas. Over the course of her celebrated career, her paintings and sculptures outgrew the traditional materials contained within her studio and expanded to inhabit the land and people around her.
To experience Lita’s large-scale installations (often tinged in an ultramarine blue pigment all her own) is to dance with dichotomies. At once grounded and transcendent, intimate and epic, earthly and celestial—Lita’s work, above all, is a celebration of how we connect to our environment.
It’s a creative worldview that was put to test in November of 2018 when the Woolsey Fire engulfed the hills around Malibu and destroyed her home and studio. Suddenly, the place in which she spent decades raising her kids and making her art was gone, along with a vast archive of completed works and works-in-progress.
It was a monumental loss that would have been devastating to any artist—and particularly so for Lita, whose creative imagination has always been intrinsically connected to her environment. But Lita could not let her grief paralyze her because she had to get to work on the long list of pieces previously commissioned by collectors. That backlog turned out to be her saving grace. Eventually she found that the process of creative expression had resurrected the parts of her she feared the fire had claimed forever.
Over the course of a Change Lab conversation alternately stirring and sublime, Lita generously retraces the harrowing path she’s walked to a place of recovery and renewal she simply describes as “back.”