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Good Morning, Midnight Size. 91"diameter Medium. burlap, twine, thread,dye.


Wool, Silk and Thread Size. 91" diameter Medium.wool, silk,thread.




Artist: Lisa DiQuinzio, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Interview 70: Lisa exhibited in the major 2012 World of Threads Festival exhibition Quiet Zone at The Gallery at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre in Oakville, Ontario.

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Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.



Lisa DiQuinizo graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She majored in painting with a minor in Film Studies. She has been involved in a number of group shows in Toronto and in 2004 she co-currated the show Centre of Attention. Lisa has had two solo exhibitions, The Rugged Wilderness in 2008 at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects and Song for Naomi in 2011 at The Department Gallery. She created an artist project for the magazine Hunter and Cook, issue #6 in 2010 and had a residency at VSVSVS for the month of June, 2012. Lisa was the recipient of an Emerging Artist Grant in 2011 from the Ontario Arts Council.

Trained in painting, commercial sewing and costume design, Lisa’s work is process oriented involving various techniques. She is interested in the nature of perception and seeks to engage a dialog about narrative structures, dreams and creative practice.


Installation View


Tell us about your work?

I like to make work that speaks of experience. An aspect of my work is interested in the creation, or expression, of sentiment. Sometimes I use a clown character to articulate self-consciousness, as well as elements of creative practice.  As an archetype the Clown serves this purpose well, as it can be foolish, wise, male, female, aggressive or passive. I work in different mediums but generally approach things in the same way. I think art should demonstrate the immediate on some level, so my work usually holds some element of gesture. I like to dye fabric, leave it outside, drag it around, cut it up, and stitch it back together and then try to make something to look at, to reflect on.


Good Morning Midnight Detail


From where do you get your inspiration?

I am inspired by literature, generally fiction. Sometimes when I am reading I think ‘how did that character come to life?’ Then I try to deconstruct it and perform it as a painting or as a textile piece.


Why did you choose to go into fibre art?

To supplement my income as an artist I began to work as a seamstress, sewing costumes for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Theater and the National Ballet.  Slowly fabric began to enter into my art practice. I think it was a natural progression.


Wool, Silk and Thread Detail


What other mediums do you work in and how does this inform your fibre work?

I make paintings. I think of painting and fibre art practices as being very closely related.  They are both essentially based on a grid structure. I also work in film and video and use this medium to further express my narrative explorations.


What bridges the works that you have created in differing media?

I think the work is made in the same way, applying the same spirit of exploration and search for new forms. A version of the clown has appeared in each medium I work in. There is also repetition of some themes like literature and film theory, circles, and still life.


Which is your favourite fibre medium?

I like burlap quite a bit. It has industrial uses, good strength and a nice ability to unravel.



Ruff Size. 45"diameter Medium. cotton, dirt, thread.


What specific historic artists have influenced your work?

Leigh Bowery: (March 26 1961-December 31 1994) an Australian performance artist whose impulse to shock and confuse through dress and performance functioned to create a profound criticism of censorship, class and gender. He often adopted a clown character when performing.

Claire Zeisler: (April 18 1903-September 30 1991) an American fibre artist whose work is so striking and unparalleled in it’s composition and form, that it looks as fresh and innovative today as it did when it was created. I appreciate her unusual use of textiles to create abstract forms.

Jean Rhys: (August 24 1890- May 14 1979) a Dominica born writer. The author of many short stories and novels. Her most widely known book, Wide Sargasso Sea, won the WH Smith Literary Award in 1967.  Often writing about themes of loss, despair and depression, she masterfully gives life to the underdog, dissecting modes of power, oppression and dependence, themes I explore in my own work.

Eileen Agar: (December 1 1899-Novemeber 17 1991) a British artist associated with the surrealist movement. Her work is exciting, playful and unpredictable, a constant source of inspiration. I like many female surrealists; Agar’s composition is particularly strong.

Together these artists have helped shape and influence my own practice. I am drawn to the way they alternately combine humour with despair and incisive critism with formal beauty.


Ruff Detail


What specific contemporary artists have influenced your work?

Robert Morris is an American artist whose work takes many forms. I appreciate the way he moves freely between different mediums with a poetic and critical voice. He approaches the familiar in an unconventional way making room for new narratives.

Sandra Meigs is a Canadian artist whose paintings open a dialog about viewing. She often combines sculptural elements to painting, hanging fabric from shaped canvases. I like the way she engages the viewer with an organic blend of visual clues.

John Massey is a Canadian artist who works as a sculptor, photographer and filmmaker. I am drawn to the way he treats architectural space as physiological space. He creates complete worlds that linger between dream and reality exploring the nature of perception.

I am inspired by these artists shared sensibility to explore the idea of perception and how they playfully arouse the imagination to altered modes of understanding.


Misty Shapes Size. 45"diameter Medium. burlap, thread, dye, glue.


What other fibre artists are you interested in?

Heather Goodchild, Toronto, Ontario. Heather creates a rich imaginary world with the most innovative and clever use of textiles. Her work is inspired revisionist history.

What role do you think fibre art plays in contemporary art?

I think it plays a very significant role. Fabric is rich with aesthetic possibilities, structural potential and semiotic power. Everyone has fabric in his or her life; on conscious and unconscious levels it permeates our understanding of existence.


Loom. Size. 108" x 72"Medium. wood, wool weaving yarn


Can you talk a bit about the commercial viability of fibre art and do you find it more difficult to show and sell your work than non-fibre artists?

I don’t think of fibre art as being more or less difficult to sell than work made of other medias. Good work is not medium specific.


What is your philosophy about the Art that you create?

I like to think of the art I make as incomplete, grounded in the experience of life, trying to exist in the sensual and the unknown.


Pussy Willow Size 20"diameter Medium. pussy willows, thread, pins

Pussy Willow Detail


When did you first discover your creative talents?

I had an older cousin who went to NSCAD in Halifax, Nova  Scotia. When I was about twelve I saw a painting she had made at school, it was a picture of the pope drinking a can of Pepsi. After that I knew I wanted to be an artist.


Clown Curtain Size. 84"x60" Medium. burlap, dye,thread.


Where did you train and how did your training influence your art?

I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University, Toronto, with a major in Painting and a minor in Film Studies. I had some excellent teachers at York, sculptor Ted Beiler, painter Janet Jones and theorist Chistina Stojanova. While I was at York I was able to take classes outside of the Fine Art Department and I think this developed a framework for drawing on a wide range of influences while engaging in a creative practice. I also went to NSCAD, Halifax, for independent studio and later to George Brown College, Toronto, for Fashion Techniques and Design. Each school experience lent itself in different ways to my practice.


Clown Curtain Detail


Please explain how you developed your own style.

I’m not sure my style is isolated, instead I have tried to be a conduit for many styles. However, certain things always come back…clowns, the colour black and the shape of a circle.


When you were starting out, did you have a mentor?

Garry Neil Kennedy. I met him at NSCAD in 2000. His openness, support, humour and strength offered a mode of being that expanded all possibilities.


Ruffle Size 52"diameter 25"height Medium.cotton, thread.


How does your early work differ from what you are doing now?

I think I have grown a lot as an artist and I am more comfortable with failure. I started working mainly in paint, and fibre use has increased over the years.


Dummies.Size 67" Medium.cotton,wire,foam

Dummies Detail.Medium. Cotton, foam, wire.


Have you experienced fluctuations in your productivity and how have your expectations changed through the years?

I feel the older I get the more imperative it seems to make art. It requires an effort to balance the demands of life and creativity, but the objective is clear and my productivity continues to increase.




What project has given you the most satisfaction and why?

The impetus to make work for me comes from a certain dissatisfaction. I guess I would say I am most satisfied when I am trying to work that out.


How did you initially start showing your work in galleries?

I got put in a group show out of university and continued to make contacts through the art community.


In Process


Tell us about your studio and how you work:

I have a studio room in my apartment.  It’s pretty messy and constantly being rearranged. Because it’s small, I use every surface. If I’m drawn to something, like a piece of fabric, I pin it to the wall and just let it hang around until I decide to turn it into something else.



Night Flowers Size 40x30"Medium. oil on wood


Where do you imagine your work in five years? 

I can’t really imagine where it might be, I just hope it’s there.


Tannis.Size .24"x30" Medium. oil. wood, linen


What interests you about the World of Threads Festival?

The World of Threads has exposed me to so many new artists. It’s really exciting.



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Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.