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Lia Halloran - Artists - Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

For the past fifteen years, Lia Halloran’s studio practice has been in dialogue with science and nature, often interweaving ideas about sexuality, intimacy, and physical movement to produce projects that discuss topics such as astrophysics, magnetism and gravity, perception and scale, giant crystal and ice caves, cabinets of curiosity, taxonomy and classification, the periodic table of elements, and interconnected relativity. Halloran grew up surfing and skateboarding in the Bay Area and developed a deep love of science while working at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, her first high school job.

In 2009, Halloran began working on a performance-based photographic series called Dark Skate using long-exposure photography to document trajectories of Halloran’s movements on a skateboard in urban architectural space at night. This series consists of site-specific two-dimensional images that are part photograph, part performance, and part self-portrait drawings, created by affixing a light to Halloran’s body as she moves through space. Dark Skate explores relationships generated between the body and space, expressing the universal and intimate qualities of each. Halloran has traversed a variety of unique urban terrain during the development of this series, exploring, skating, and photographing concrete riverbanks, dams, skateparks, underpasses, and abandoned architecture in Los Angeles, Miami, Detroit, and most recently in Vienna, Austria.

Halloran began a new body of work is titled Your Body is a Space That Sees in 2015. This work consists of a series of large-scale cyanotypes that present the history and discoveries of a group of women known as “Pickering’s Harem,” or later as the “Harvard Computers.” Working at the Harvard Observatory from the late 1800s through the first half of the 20th century, the members of this group made significant strides in the field of astronomy through the use of photographic glass plates, establishing classification systems for the size, brightness, and chemical content of stars. The contributions of these women were highly impactful, yet they have been largely excluded from the common history of astronomy.

The works in Your Body is a Space That Sees offer the experience of a female-centric catalog of stellar objects in immersive cyan blue and visually illuminate the curiosity and richness of the night sky through depictions of craters, comets, galaxies, and nebula. Halloran's cyanotypes are created through a process of painting and printing, beginning with visual cues from the “Computers’” research. Translations of stellar objects are painted on semi-transparent film then placed on top of paper coated with light-sensitive emulsion—the film and paper are then exposed to direct sunlight. This process results in the production of two related works: a cyanotype print of the positive image in equal scale to its matching painted negative, both created without the use of a camera.

Halloran has participated in several interdisciplinary projects and collaborations including curating exhibitions, creating platforms for critical dialogue on contemporary art, and establishing connections between science and art—most notably coauthoring a book with the Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, titled, The Warped Side of Our Universe: An Odyssey through Black Holes, Wormholes, Time Travel, and Gravitational Waves. Her series Deep Sky Companion, which reinterprets the 18th century French comet hunter Charles Messier’s “Catalogue of Deep Sky Objects” in 110 paintings and their 110 photographic twins, is on permanent display at the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA.

Lia Halloran was born 1977 in Chicago, IL and lives and works in Los Angeles. Halloran received a BFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1999 and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University in 2001. She is the recipient of various awards including a C.O.L.A Master Art Fellowship in 2020; 2018 LUX Art Institute Artist Residency and exhibition, Encinitas, CA; 2018 Artist Residency at the American Natural History Museum Astrophysics Department, New York, NY; 2018 Pioneer Works Artist in Residency, Brooklyn, NY; and a 2016 Art Works Grant from the National Endowment of the Arts for the project Your Body is a Space that Sees.  Halloran’s work is held in the public collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Center for Astrophysics l Harvard & Smithsonian, Cambridge, MA; Harvard College Observatory and Harvard Plate Stacks, Cambridge, MA;  Escalette Permanent Collection of Art, Chapman University, Orange, CA; Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX; Speyer Family Collection, New York, NY; Progressive Art Collection, Cleveland, OH; Microsoft Art Collection, San Francisco, CA; Fidelity Investments Corporate Art Collection, Boston, MA; Simons Foundation, New York; among others. Solo exhibitions of Halloran’s work have been held at LAX Terminal 1 and Terminal 3, Los Angeles, CA; Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA; ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, CA; University of Maryland Art Gallery, College Park, MD; LUX Art Institute, Encinitas, CA; Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Caltech, Pasadena, CA (permanent installation); and the Schneider Museum of Art, Ashland, OR; among others.  Halloran has been profiled in publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, ArtNews, and New York Magazine. 


The Sun Burns My Eyes Like Moons

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Lia Halloran The Sun Burns My Eyes Like Moons (Positive), 2021

Lia Halloran
The Sun Burns My Eyes Like Moons (Positive), 2021
Cyanotype on paper from painted negative, acrylic, ink
119 x 300 in. 

Lia Halloran The Sun Burns My Eyes Like Moons (Negative), 2021

Lia Halloran
The Sun Burns My Eyes Like Moons (Negative), 2021
Cyanotype on paper from painted negative, acrylic, ink
119 x 300 in. 


Lia Halloran
Solar (Positive)
Cyanotype on paper from painted negative
120 x 130.5 in. 

Lia Halloran Solar (Negative)

Lia Halloran
Solar (Negative)
Ink on drafting film, double negative 
116 x 126 in. 

Lia Halloran, Untitled, Solar (6), 2020

Lia Halloran
Solar, (Part 23), 2020
Cyanotype on paper printed from a painted negative, acrylic and ink
41 x 27 in. 

Lia Halloran Solar, (Part 24), 2020

Lia Halloran
Solar, (Part 24), 2020
Cyanotype on paper printed from a painted negative, acrylic and ink
45 x 45 in. 

Lia Halloran, Solar I, 2019

Lia Halloran
Solar I, 2019
Cyanotype on paper printed from a painted negative, acrylic and ink
42 x 42 in. 

Lia Halloran, Eclipse Prototype, 2021

Lia Halloran
Eclipse Prototype I, 2021
Cyanotype on paper printed from a painted negative, acrylic and ink
44.5 x 76 in. 

Halloran’s series, The Sun Burns My Eyes Like Moons, is an homage to the sun. With a history of integrating scientific concepts into her studio practice, Halloran developed these new works over the past year when she was awarded the City of Los Angeles Visual Artist Fellowship, and follows her research of solar eclipse expeditions, ancient Egyptian temple reliefs, and most significantly, the archives of Mount Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles. Within the four large cyanotype-painted hybrid works, the artist incorporated contemporary satellite imagery of the sun, photographs she took during a total solar eclipse in 2017, and turn of the century solar images taken by George Ellery Hale, founder of Mt. Wilson Observatory and inventor of the solar telescope. 

Halloran aims to capture the sublime mythology of solar eclipses which have fascinated human beings for centuries and inspired a lineage of study. Unlike other cosmic phenomena, a solar eclipse does not require any equipment or advanced technology to observe, making it universally accessible to all. Halloran was initially drawn to this project after learning that this accessibility enabled women of the late 19th century to participate in solar expeditions, granting them freedom to travel to various parts of the world in an era when women were largely restricted. With this body of work, Halloran celebrates the legacy of these women and their contributions to science.  

Although the sun is a familiar entity, many of its physical components are imperceptible to the eye, except during a total solar eclipse. As American writer Mabel Lewis Todd once wrote after such an event, “Then out upon the darkness, grewsome but sublime, flashes the glory of the incomparable corona, a silvery, soft, unearthly light, with radiant streamers, stretching at times millions of uncomprehend miles into space, while the rosy, flaming protuberances skirt the black rim of the Moon in ethereal splendor. It becomes curiously cold, dew frequently forms, and the chill is perhaps mental as well as physical.” Halloran drew on academia and personal experience to convey this terrifying, yet sublime cosmic phenomenon to the viewer. 

Halloran specifically used cyanotype as a foundation for the works, invented by astronomer Sir John Herschel, in a nod to the early study of the heavens and transition from drawing to photography. The very practice of cyanotypes, produced through exposure to the sun, is a testament to the impressiveness of the sun’s sheer power. Each cyanotype panel was printed independently by placing a painting done on a translucent piece of paper and acting as a negative under the natural rays of the sun in order to obtain its cyanotype positive. Halloran then accentuated the imprinted image with rich colors that sweep across the paper, channeling the dynamism of its subject. Immense in size and saturated with blues, blacks, and pops of color, the resulting paintings evoke the overwhelming grandeur and luminosity of the sun. 

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