About This Exhibition

Liza Lou first burst onto the art scene in the late 1990s with the 168-square foot work Kitchen (1991-1996), a fully equipped kitchen made in actual proportions and, astoundingly, created entirely out of glass beads, now in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Since that moment, her star in the art world has brightened. In 2002, Lou was given special recognition when she was awarded the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.” Lou continues to work exclusively with glass beads—producing innovative, immersive environments that re-consider the possibilities of glass as a medium for artmaking.

This summer, the Wichita Art Museum is excited to present Liza Lou’s shimmering, 150-square-foot golden wheat field of glass beads titled Gather (one million). To make Gather (one million), nine million beads in varying shades of gold were threaded onto cut wire to make one million blades of grass. Lou systematically counted, weighed, blended, and divided the blades into equal wheat-like sheaves.

Displayed all together at ground level, the vast field of golden bundles inspired the LA Times to praise the “breathtaking elegance” of the work reminiscent of a Midwestern wheat field. “It gleams like a luminous harvest, a sun-soaked plot of copper, bronze, gold, white, and rust.”

With this large-scale installation, the museum will also present the artist’s newest work, a series she refers to as “paintings.” These wall-mounted constructions of strung glass beads resemble large color-fields with a vast shifting, glimmering range of shades. These paintings—created from hundreds of thousands of hand-strung glass beads—are marvels. They explore the emotive potential of pure color and reflect the time and care devoted to their creation. Hung above Lou’s wheat field, Gather (one million), the paintings will evoke the chromatic splendor of the Midwestern sky.

Raised in Minnesota, the artist finds inspiration in the rhythms of nature and the subtle shifts in topography characteristic to the region. Lou’s aesthetic conforms to the stoic energy and stability of the Midwest while her hand-made, seemingly-impossible constructions reference notions of time, patience, and transformation. Her work speaks to a long tradition of hand craft in artmaking and a sensitivity to natural cycles and the prairie landscape.

Square field of gold on the floor with a white bench in the background at left.

Liza Lou, Gather (one million), 2008-2010. Glass beads, stainless steel wire, hemp twine, 7 x 150 x 150 inches. Courtesy of the artist

Exhibition Sponsors

The Wichita presentation of Liza Lou’s Gather (one million) has been generously sponsored by F. Price Cossman Memorial Trust, INTRUST Bank, Trustee, and Belger Cartage Service, Inc. Additional support has been provided by the Berry Foundation, Gridley Family Foundation, and Sonia Greteman and Chris Brunner.

All museum exhibitions receive generous sponsorship from the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum Endowment Fund and the City of Wichita.