Liz Liguori Paints With Light

By exposing photosensitive paper to the ephemeral movements of light through space, the former nightclub lighting designer and Frankie Knuckles protégée brings light’s unsung painterly qualities into full view.

“Iridized Diamond Cut (for Frankie),” 2021 by Liz Liguori

Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.

Bio: Liz Liguori, 42, New York City (@lizliguori)

Title of work: Iridized Diamond Cut (for Frankie), 2021.

Where to see it: “Light of Hand” at La MaMa Galleria (47 Great Jones St, New York) until April 16.

Three words to describe it: Painting with light.

What was on your mind at the time: Sometimes, while I work, I think about the origin story of my relationship to light, from my time working as a lighting designer in New York nightclubs. It was there that I really began to understand, in my body, the transformative, meditative power of light and sound, and learned to manipulate it. While making this piece, Frankie [Knuckles, the legendary house DJ] was on my mind—how he was one of a handful of people who saw what I saw, who truly believed in my talent and gave me opportunities that ultimately led me to make this work.

An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: This piece is a unique camera-less image that I made in the darkroom. It’s made through a process that uses light to expose the photosensitive paper, allowing me to record its ephemeral movements through space in a process I call the electromagnetogram. What’s also not obvious is that the naming convention I use for all my pieces, including this one, refers to the type of optical devices I’ve used to refract light in the studio. Meaning, in this case, an antique Diamond Cut glass plate.

How it reflects your practice as a whole: My practice is about pushing the boundaries of high and low technology to realize the subtle qualities discovered in their communication. This can be everything from interactive light installations to deconstructed, repurposed everyday objects. I’m always thinking about process and experimentation, and what can be learned anew. In this piece, I’m exploring the massive scale my darkroom processes offer me, emphasizing both the painterly qualities and technically precise marks my electromagnetograms seek to find a balance between. 

One song that captures its essence: “The Whistle Song” by Frankie Knuckles.

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