How did you get into making art?
I’ve been drawing since as long as I can remember. My mom is a graphic designer, my dad is a filmmaker and my step dad is an architect/contractor, so I grew up with that creative influence and was making art at a very early age. Around the age of ten, I started dancing and continued to pursue it pretty seriously through high school, so that is a major part of my background. The vocabulary I developed with dance then completely translated when I began figurative painting. It has had such a huge impact on where my paintings come from and why I paint what I paint. Observing and interpreting body language fascinates me. I fell in love with painting and dance for their ability to say what can’t be said or felt with words alone and how it holds space for complexity and multiplicity. And painting has the ability to highlight, extend and maintain the viewers engagement with a specific moment, but holds a deep saturation of time as well.
What are you currently working on?
Right now I am working of few different series. One is my Support series, which is a group of large paintings that depict people carrying or lifting one another, surrounded by clouds. I’m interested in how it makes us feel to see a body hold the weight of another body. This relates to another ongoing body of work, which are my Hug paintings. These works look at physical closeness and what total embrace of one another looks and feels like. And then the third series I am working on is about death and the mourning process.
I’m interested in how it makes us feel to see a body hold the weight of another body.
What inspired you to get started on this body of work?
I’ve always been drawn to make images of people holding one another while emphasizing the embrace and emotional exchange of physical touch. I really started to focus on the hug pieces about 2 years ago (and I don’t really see an end in sight). I am obsessed with making these images. As far as the other series, I also started that work before the pandemic, but now with the year we all have had, this work has taken on new layers of meaning and importance. There is so much collective grieving that has been immensely heightened this year. In addition, I’ve had multiple losses of loved ones in my family in the past 6 months, so this work is very personal as well. It is one of the ways I am processing my own grief.
Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?
Usually I do take a more broad approach to my work, but the relevance of these works in our current world definitely made me decide to stick with these specific ideas in a series format, instead of them being a more singular thought in a broader body of work. So even though in the past this sequential way of working isn’t typical for my practice, it is feeling very right currently.
What’s a typical day like in your studio?
The days don’t always look the same. I work on many pieces at once, which vary in stages of development. It’s important for me to be able to bounce around, so that one piece doesn’t get overworked or I’m able to move onto another piece while something is drying, etc. I like having all modes at my fingertips when entering the studio each day. My day might include stretching a canvas, sketching ideas for compositions with charcoal, working on a piece in its middle stage where it starts unraveling, or just staring at a piece trying to decide if it is done. Half of being a painter is also being the viewer. So much of my time is spent looking and reacting to the work (and tripping over stuff in my studio as I step backwards to look, haha!) Also, constant movement/dance breaks are an essential part of my routine and practice!
Who are your favorite artists?
Alice Neel, Francis Picabia, R. B. Kitaj, David Hockney, Kerry James Marshall, Nicole Eisenman and Nick Cave to name a few. And as far as some current contemporaries that I feel a strong connection and in conversation with, Naudline Pierre, Anja Salonen, Janiva Ellis, Haley Joseph, Maja Ruznic and Coady Brown (shout out to these fellow figurative female painters!)
Where do you go to discover new artists?
Galleries, Museums, and also obviously the Internet. Instagram is a constant resource/database to find and connect with new artists, but there’s nothing like discovering someone new through seeing their work in person!
Lynnea Holland-Weiss is an artist based in Cleveland who was recently shortlisted for The Hopper Prize. To learn more about the artist: