Is Barbara Liotta’s art “AirArt”, where stone LandArt is hung on threads?

Barbara Liotta: „Windy Hill Nereid”.

The US artist creates airy curtains for parks and museums or as décor for the home

Update: The magazine “The Atlantic” has a report how 3 artists, Barbara Liotta among them, are responding to the pandemic.

In LandArt stone is often used to create circles or lines in the landscape. Research on Barbara Liotta’s hanging stones gave us the idea that her art could perhaps be called “AirArt”, where LandArt arrangements are rotated by 90 degrees and hung by threads? She liked the idea.

Without a doubt, the American artist Barbara Liotta makes quite extraordinary art. At first glance, she simply hung small stones on threads, and inside you can see a kind of airy curtain.

Barbara Liotta: „Rubell Nereid”.

In some works, the threads underneath the stones go even further and get lost in a tangled ball on the ground.

Barbara Liotta with Perla Krauze: „A dark and scandalous rockfall”, Mexican Cultural Institute.

But if you take a closer look at the works of art, in addition to the materials stone, thread and suspension, two other media are added: firstly, the wind, which can set the whole arrangement in slight motion, and secondly, the shadow, which draws a copy of the work of art on a wall, for example. If the light source also moves, then even without wind, for example indoors, there is suddenly movement in the work of art.

Barbara Liotta clarifies that this is the case in all these works. Only apparently rigid, there are vibrations in the long threads even without wind, for instance when vibrations such as footfall sound are absorbed from the ceiling of an interior. She draws the comparison of her installation with a musical instrument: “It breathes, as in the vibrato of a stringed instrument.”

Barbara Liotta: „Score at MPA”.

This is probably where the influence of her education is reflected: Barbara Liotta studied fine art and dance at Sarah Lawrence College in Cleveland, USA, where she was “born to art-conscious parents”, as her webpage states.

She outlines the guiding principle of her art as follows: “The work should be as clear as chamber music and as graceful as a dance.”

Note that she also uses a sledgehammer to bring stones in the desired size. This, in turn, is reflected in her works of art and gives them tension and life, as she puts it: “All of the work floats between the lyrical and the formal, the powerful and the melodious, the violent and the beautiful.”

Barbara Liotta: „Serena”.

Let’s take a closer look at what she means: the formal is the strict lines of the threads, the lyrical and melodic are the movements or vibrations in which the threads can get caught, the powerful and violent is the energy of the hammer stored in the stones.
Her works can be seen not only in public parks or museums, but also in private homes. There they are a truly extraordinary type of interior design. She then develops the respective forms together with the client with whom she selects the appropriate stones.

Barbara Liotta: „Eos”, detail.

She gets them from Fernando’s Marble, a stonemason in the town of Rockville, Maryland in proximity. His family is of Portuguese descent, and she shares the love of the material with the owner. He sometimes points out special varieties, and is incredibly supportive, tirelessly collecting fragments which might suit her needs, she writes.
The threads are made of a special polyester in white, black or grey. The fabric must be extraordinarily strong, must not stretch under the weight of the stones and must not tend to get tangled.

Barbara Liotta has also made sculptural works. She also draws bas relief.

Barbara Liotta

Fernando’s Marble Shop

Photos: Barbara Liotta.

Barbara Liotta: „Aoös“, Katzen Museum at American University.Barbara Liotta. Foto: Mary Noble Ours

(25.05.2020, USA: 05.25.2020)