Lisa Nonken has a broad array of experience as an artist and educator. She is currently in the midst of earning her MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a concentration in sculpture. Last year, she served as a visiting artist at the Siena School for Liberal Arts in Siena, Italy. She has participated in other artist residency programs, including Yaddo and the Vermont Studio Center. Lisa received her BA in Studio Art and Art History at Mount Holyoke College. At the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, she completed her Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Sculpture. This post-bacc program allowed her to study the “technical” side of sculpture and human anatomy, and to receive training in academic figurative drawing, painting, and sculpture. She then served as a studio assistant to several figurative sculptors working on large-scale commissions. For example, she traveled to Pietrasanta, Italy to assist Stanley Bleifeld with the Civil Rights Memorial he created for the Virginia State Capitol. Lisa also worked as a foundry assistant at New England Sculpture Services in Boston.
Lisa’s current artwork combines diverse media, including sound and animation as well as traditional bronze casting. She continues to find inspiration in sculpture’s power to confront the viewer in a shared space, and she is particularly interested in using her artwork to examine the ideas of “community,” “the public,” “social responsibility” and the artist’s role in contemporary society.
See more of Lisa’s work at www.lisanonken.com
The eight weeks of my Blue Sky residency flew by, in large part because we were working at full-speed the entire time. Although I came to Dayton with many project ideas, I preserved within them the opportunity for potential collaborations to lead in unexpected directions.
This was perhaps the most challenging aspect of my Blue Sky experience: working to bring all my collaborators onboard with our project, while keeping our end-goal open and evolving. To enter a project without a clear destination can be a daunting position. If left without boundaries and restrictions, there is a strong inclination to dissolve into complete frivolity. There is a certain determined focus required for the creation of serious or ambitious works of art, yet often the best ideas can emerge from playful experiments. It is complex to find a balance between somber calculated art-making and whimsy.
My youth contributors helped me come to a richer appreciation of the balance between serious focus and playful experimentation. They also challenged me to reflect on concepts that I often take for granted: in a world of possibilities with few boundaries, what do I do? How do I look fully around myself and choose which direction to explore? How do I decide what to create?
My eight weeks with Blue Sky Project far exceeded my expectations. Along with being able to create artwork with my youth participants, the summer also provided many opportunities to work collaboratively with my fellow resident artists. These opportunities not only fed my own creativity and opened up my own studio practice, but were also immensely enjoyable.
It was an honor to be part of a community that was eager to go out of its way to help me locate information, resources, and space needed for the realization of my artwork. I am deeply grateful for the support my projects received not only from Blue Sky, but also from the University of Dayton and the greater Dayton community.