Lizzie’s recent work focuses on representations of girls and young women on the path to discovering their own identities. Painted in oil using a combination of washes, solid blocks of color, layered brushwork, and thick impasto applied with a palette knife, the images play with the rules of pictorial space while evoking nostalgia, dreams, and memories of childhood and adolescence. Wortham’s award-winning painting “Girl” was aptly described by Minneapolis Star-Tribune art critic Mary Abbe as capturing “the mingled hostility, curiosity, and vulnerability” of girlhood in its many stages.
It was small, they were small, and fragile. I wanted to protect them from time, age, the world outside of the garden, but they had already been taken out of the box. Still curious of how it all happened, that establishment of self, the declaration stating “I’m this! Not that” with fear and fierceness, I blurred the edges. Looking back, them at me, me at my own, sharing the pain and enthusiasm for a future we now know… forces me to scrape things away, lay on the floor and dilute with spirits, tilting the present in all the directions our lives could have gone. We hang in the balance, taking the photo, holding who we are, hanging it on the wall so that we can step back and see. But it’s still smeared, it won’t come clean, we are not clean and pure anymore, that’s not how it works.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Wortham began painting during her undergraduate years at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she was a student of the late Jerry Rudquist. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Wortham worked as a designer, but continued to paint—often, with her children and their friends as subjects. In 2010, she entered the Painting and Drawing MFA program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying under T. L. Solien. Upon graduating in 2013, Wortham moved to Lowertown Lofts Artist Cooperative in St. Paul, MN.
While living in the Twin Cities she got involved in a number of community arts efforts including serving as the painting and drawing judge for the Minnesota State Fair art exhibition in 2017 and participating in the St. Paul Art Crawl for a number of years, winning both the poster contest and media contest in 2017.
Wortham now paints out of her woodland studio in Clam Falls, Wisconsin. Her work has been shown at the Catherine C. Murphy Gallery at St. Catherine University, the Duluth Art Institute, Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, Keep Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe, and Saatchi’s Other Art Fair in Chicago. She has received regional and national recognition from organizations such as the Minnesota State Arts Board, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the North American Graduate Art Survey, and the White Bear Lake Center for the Arts.
© Lizzie Wortham