Julia Sherman: Tell me what it means to be a ‘hunter-gatherer?’ You use that term to describe yourself, I love it, but I wonder what it means to you?
Laurie Litowitz: Most of my friends know that no matter where I go, I find THINGS to bring home. Sometimes I pack objects in my suitcase if I’m on a trip, or I simply carry them in my hands until I get back to my studio if I’m in Oaxaca. I am constantly finding objects in nature, on the sidewalk, in the street and also buying cheap items in markets and everyday stores. I am inspired by found objects that are not meant for artists.
JS: Have you always been a collector? You have so many intricate little gems tucked in every corner of your home.
LL: I don’t know if you can call me a “collector”…I usually refer to myself as an “accumulator.” As far as I remember, the first things I appreciated and saved were the inside of toilet paper rolls that I found in public bathrooms when I was about 4 years old. So I guess it goes back pretty far.
JS: Where did you find the dead hummingbirds I saw in your studio? How did they appear in your work?
LL: Birds sometimes crash into the windows of my house and occasionally die as a result of this. I always take photos of the dead birds and have included the photos in several works of art. The hummingbirds dried naturally so I saved them.
JS: It seems like your space and environment are very important to your work. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
LL: I have been living in my present house since September 2007. I worked very closely with the architect on every aspect of the design. My large studio is excellent with great natural light and I absolutely love my enormous work-table. My house is surrounded by a garden, and I spend a lot of my time out there. It has had an influence in my work; for my most recent project I used various plant matter from the garden.
JS: When did you move to Oaxaca, and how did that come to pass?
LL: I’ve been living in Oaxaca since 1984. For many years I was a real Europhile having lived in France, Italy, the ex Yugoslavia, Holland and Spain. My last year living in Europe I felt that it had become just like any other consumer society like and I became disillusioned. At that point I had visited Oaxaca a couple of times, so I decided to try living there. After just 10 days there I realized how much more mind space I had.
JS: What do you love about living in Oaxaca? What are some of the challenges of living there?
LL: I arrived in Oaxaca because I wanted a simpler life but I stayed for so many other reasons: Lovely people, great weather, strong local culture with amazing traditions that are still very much alive even after 32 years of living here. I particularly love many of the crafts that are practiced in various parts of the state. The down side of living here is the unpunctuality of the people. Getting things done can be a challenge.
JS: Getting less done sound alright to me!