Lydia J Musco
Lives and works in New England
(b. 1978, American)
“The way in which I work has evolved through the trials and errors of developing a visual language and vocabulary. The style of any body of my work is simply the result of finding the best solution to communicate in that particular situation. In some instances, this results in creating abstract forms that reference geology and written alphabets, and in other cases it results in forms that look somewhat like horses and reference solid mass and empty space at the same time.”
I learned to work with my hands from my woodworker father and my grandmothers who cooked Sicilian delicacies and played piano duets. I learned to observe the world from my poet mother and from my grandfathers who performed magic tricks and asked expert questions.
While learning these forms of expression and communication I also learned the power of working deeply into whatever boundaries are encountered and the immense, unexpected creative territory that is revealed when choices are limited.
My most valuable tools are the rules and constraints I encounter and create.
My current body of work began with the development of rules that governed scale, form, color, content, and logistics. As I navigated each rule, I found avenues that led me to solutions to the other rules. For example, the logistics rule – I must be able to handle and move an entire piece myself if necessary – led to a building process that itself led to deeper explorations within the restrictions guiding color and content. Stacking many individual pieces into a larger form was a logistical solution and simultaneously brought in a way to represent the layers of stories and memories that make up my experience of moving through life.
When I interact with the repetitive stacking of these current pieces, I am reconstructing not only the way in which they were built but also the moments that are encoded in the actions that created each layer. I think about sedimentary layers found in geology and the way that large and small moments can be recorded but can also be changed over time. Each time I stack or unstack a piece I am a different person. The object represents both the past – when it was built – and the present moment of being rebuilt. With the action of building up the form again I’m reminded to consider how things have changed, both from my own perspective and in the bigger picture.
These works are slowly moving from artifacts of a solitary, personal processes into a social experience. The performance of rebuilding the object offers the personal aspects to the public for their interpretation through the act of viewing the completed piece and also through the experience of being part of the building. When others participate in the construction, they are building something that is not only a product of the process but an object that can be repeatedly rebuilt under new circumstances and perhaps with new intentions and new questions. This work will come together as the same object with each assembly but what it means to its successive builders will continue to change and evolve.
My curiosity about the role and effects of objects and spaces within the world and within the language of art continues to drive what, how, and why I make things. Making helps me understand the world. Making helps me learn how things go together, how things come apart, how they stand, how they fall, how they interact, and helps me to see the world. There is so much to learn; I treasure every scrap of understanding I can get.
- Lydia J Musco is an artist from New England whose work has been exhibited in galleries and outdoor spaces across the United States.
- She studied stone carving in Italy and has participated in symposia and residencies in Norway, South Korea, and China.
- As a graduate student, Musco developed methods of casting concrete in thin, stackable layers and was awarded a Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant for the resulting body of work.
- Awards and recognitions include two Pollock-Krasner Foundation grants; a Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists grant; and an Edward F. Albee Fellowship, among others.
- She holds a BA from Bennington College and an MFA from Boston University.