Updated: Jul 12, 2021
Giulia Piera Livi is an interdisciplinary artist originally from Philadelphia, now living and working in Baltimore City. She earned a B.F.A. from Penn State University and an M.F.A. from the Mount Royal School at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Her work in painting and installation is an investigation of interior space and design, focusing on abstraction and accessibility. Her immerse rooms employ color and form to work out ideas of multi-functional art objects and curated domesticity. Livi has exhibited both nationally and internationally with recent solo shows at VisArts (Rockville, MD), Artspace (Richmond, VA), 13|U Art Windows (Washington, D.C.), VAE Gallery (Raleigh, NC), and Arlington Arts Center (Arlington, VA). She received an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2019 and the Bethesda Trawick Young Artist Prize in 2017. Livi is currently Associate Director of C. Grimaldis Gallery and an Adjunct Professor at MICA.
I interpose objects of the everyday to distort our sense of space, explore our ability to inhabit rooms, and merge the dreamlike with the rigid. I think of paintings as they exist in the home, decorating our lives, using us to give them purpose. And inversely, objects become paintings to question abstraction and reality. My work focuses on the acute and the polite, the domestic and the utilitarian. My studio practice deals with issues of desire, consumption, and the absurdity of convenience. Taking form in immersive installations filled with fiber-based wall pieces, my work combines imagination and points of memory to unpack the history of modernism and minimalism in the home. This question of domesticity comes from a curiosity of the curated home space, how the imperfections of home life can be contrasted with the polish of interior design. By paring abstraction with accessibility, I aim to critique both the home and retail space. I utilize materiality and hyper-cohesive color to investigate the artist’s role in a society with an aspiration to be modern.
1: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in the arts.
I'm originally from Philadelphia, but I've been living in Baltimore for about 6 years now. I went to Penn State for my BFA and MICA for my MFA in Multidisciplinary Art. I had been painting in undergrad and working on murals in Philadelphia, but when approaching grad school I wanted a more open dialogue around painting and to be learning alongside a more interdisciplinary peer group. I remained in Baltimore post grad to continue collaborating with that peer group and have found it to be a very productive and active art scene to be a part of. It’s easy to know and learn from everyone working here. In addition to my studio practice I also teach part-time at MICA and am Associate Director of C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore’s longest continually operating contemporary space. This combination of roles has enabled me to keep my practice and my life very open to all facets of the art world: art making, education, curatorial work, and community engagement.
2: What kind of work are you currently making?
I’m primarily working in immersive installations and wall-bound sculptures. The work is really
based on a fascination with interior design history and the role of private collections. I grew up in an overly-curated home space and have always been curious about how the utilitarian objects around us shape how we understand art objects. I’m interested in abstracting space and thinking critically about retail environments. I’ve also been working through the idea that objects start as points in space and slowly grow into the furniture (or whatever) that we recognize. So the sculptures are pieces pregnant with the idea of a couch, or a lamp, or a chair. And these pregnant objects reference specific domestic forms from my memory or experiences.
3: What is a day like in the studio for you?
I am fortunate to have a studio very close to my home so I can work on my off days or squeeze in early morning or evening hours. I share a loft space with three other Baltimore artists (Pete Cullen, Chris Batten, and Aubrey Dunn) so it is a very active environment. When in the studio I am always listening to podcasts (Sound and Vision, RadioLab, This American Life, Fresh Air...) I'm a very project-based worker, so when I am in the studio I am usually making components for an upcoming exhibition, which means planning out objects and executing them...usually over-making so I can play with objects in the space during installation. But if I don't have anything on the books I tend to spend my studio time making collages or drawings that serve as inspiration for later sculptural works. I like to play around with vintage interior design magazines and make "exquisite corpses" out of images of modernist furniture, which then get abstracted to become three dimensional wall pieces.
4: What are you looking at right now and/or reading?
There is a great UK-based design magazine called "Dirty Furniture" that I really love. It unpacks the relationship between people and the objects they live with, and is so well put together. I recently finished John Water’s 2014 autobiography “Role Models” in which the cult filmmaker lists his all time must-reads...so now I am working my way through his suggestions...and they do not disappoint. And just like everyone living through this time I am consuming a lot of news. So much news. Probably too much news.
5: Where can we find more of your work?
IG: @ giuliapiera
I currently have a solo show at the Delaware Contemporary Museum called BEND/BREATHE, which is up until the end of April. And an upcoming solo show at Montpelier Arts Center (dates are TBD as it was a postponed show from 2020). Hoping for a more fruitful 2021 for myself and for the rest of the artists in my community.