Lizzy De Vita

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Artist Statement

Three years ago, my world fell apart. Within a matter of days I went from being a reader, thinker, and hoarder of words and information to a person who was unable to walk, even stand. More critically, I ceased to think, hold memories, envision images, read, and even speak and understand words. Everything I knew to be me evaporated because an unidentifiable infection took hold of my brain.

Like an invaded country, I’m slowly reclaiming some territories of my former life. In the process, I’ve thought deeply about how our identities are created by assumptions we make – based on physical and mental patterns we form as we speak, move through space, and interact with the world. Having learned to stand and walk, I built an unexamined identity as one who walks. Having come into language, I assumed an identity as one who thinks. Where do we place our selves when these structural lattices start to unravel?

When infection destroyed my usual way of understanding things, it was terrifying, but strangely beautiful. The dissolution of my entire cognitive framework gave me a feeling of calm co-extensiveness with the world. I felt meaning, though I couldn’t articulate it. I also felt a deep lack of recognition with the starkly solid face and body I saw delineated in the mirror. I felt diffuse, porous, boundless. It was a fundamental, transformative experience. Some, my deeply religious relatives for instance, might identify it as a communion with the divine. My queer family might see it as profound fluidity. But I don’t know what to call it, and I like that.

Catastrophe, if we’re lucky enough to survive it, gives us an opportunity to reexamine our world and who we thought we were within it. I feel that much of what’s meaningful in our lives occurs outside of the structures our more cognitive selves can envision. My work creates small catastrophes, situations where the world does not follow our assumptions of cause and effect – I walk, therefore I will continue walking – and so allows us to see them as fragile, impermanent.

I take everyday moments and attempt to startle them out of their settled place in the logical, predictable world. I deliberately mis-place recognizable relationships within other structures, creating a disjunctive collision that allows other meanings to emerge.

What if, for instance, a conversation between me and my estranged grandfather was presented as one between a talk show host and her guest, or a pieta, or two soldiers at ease? How would these physical shifts change our perception of a story he tells me of his miraculous conversion to a faith which was catastrophic to my family’s life? What if three people from different hemispheres could hear each other’s breath, and feel each other’s movements? How does that change our understanding of basic things like breathing, boundary or proximity? What if two straight, white male strangers spoke to one another on the phone, first and last thing, each day for a month? What are the limits of their (and our) empathy for these unseen counterparts?

My life has been dramatically, and I think forever altered by the random collision of my life with other lives – a microscopic bacteria with my brain, a tick with my arm. Regimes change, people fall in love, insects bite and feed and suddenly lives are upended and changed forever. I explore these moments where our paradigms shift irretrievably – to things as complex and large as mass migration, as close as the gentrification of city neighborhoods, and as small and fundamental to life as the patterns of our breath. I notice them and hope to tease them out of their comfortable framework, casting wide their meaning.

I wish not to change the world, but rather to change our understanding of it; to offer a window into the potential that is always at our fingertips, always just beyond our logic. I hope to direct our focus to the parts of our lives that are alarmingly illogical, yet also creative of profound, inarticulable empathy — radical vulnerability.



2013- 2015
MFA, Sculpture | Yale School of Art- New Haven, CT.
2004- 2008
BA, English Literature, Art History (Vis. Arts) | Barnard College- New York, NY
Magna Cum Laude; Dept. Honors in English; Honors for thesis in English
Université de Paris VII, Jussieu, Reid Hall Program, Columbia U.- Paris, FR


The Sky Too Dreams of Rest | The Chimney NYC- Brooklyn, NY
Cassandra | MFA Thesis Exhibition, Green Gallery, Yale School of Art-New Haven, CT
Homographies | Pittsburgh Center for the Arts -Pittsburgh, PA
So Lo | Assemble – Pittsburgh, PA
SHIFT | Borelli-Edwards Galleries


(no subject) | SCREEN- The World Wide Web
Video and Performance Festival | The Chimney NYC- Brooklyn, NY
Il Festival de Arte e Tecnologia | Galeria Incubadora -Atibaia, BRAZIL
Re-Juvenation Exhibition | Re- Exhibitions- Newburgh, NY
Person, Place, Thing: Eleven Artists Negotiate the Real | Barnard College New York, NY
Video Mixer | Green Gallery, Yale School of Art New York, NY
Lucid Gestures | Louise McCagg Gallery, Barnard College New York, NY
For Ed: Splendor in the Grass | Green Gallery, Yale School of Art-New Haven, CT
GOLD STANDARD Presents: Fifteen Minutes of Shame | 937 Liberty -Pittsburgh, PA
Sound, Time, Space | 937 Liberty-Pittsburgh, PA
Face Value: (De)Constructing Identity in Portraiture | U. Pittsburgh Art Gallery Pittsburgh, PA
Prolonged Exposure | The Invisible Dog-Brooklyn, NY
Everything is Index, Nothing is History | The Invisible Dog-Brooklyn, NY
D for Devotion | Louise McCagg Art Gallery, Barnard College New York, NY
artXwomen | AIR Gallery and Affordable Art Fair Manhattan New York, NY
i am not a good enough feminist | Concrete Utopia New York, NY
Interplay | Pittsburgh Center for the Arts – Pittsburgh, PA
99th Annual Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Exhibition | Carnegie Museum of Art- Pittsburgh, PA
Breathe the AIR | Artists Image Resource-Pittsburgh, PA
Fetish | Barney Bldg., New York University- New York, NY
98th Annual AAP Exhibition | The Andy Warhol Museum -Pittsburgh, PA
97th Annual AAP Exhibition | Carnegie Museum of Art-Pittsburgh, PA


Alumnae Fellowship for Graduate Study | Barnard College – New York, NY
Artist Opportunities Grant | Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council- Pittsburgh, PA
Artist Opportunities Grant | Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council-Pittsburgh, PA
Aaronel DeRoy Gruber Award | 98th Annual AAP Exhibition, Warhol Museum-Pittsburgh, PA
Trust Entrepreneurial Internship Grant | Barnard College New York, NY


Art + Research Resident (Research partner: Annabelle Boissier) | Arts Cabinet- London and New York
Funded Resident | Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski- Warsaw, POLAND
Grzegorsz Kowalski & Artur Zmijewski Creating Through Collaboration:
Space, Body, Camera International Masters Workshop
Invited Resident | Wassaic Residency- Wassaic, NY


Studio Visit with Lizzy De Vita | by Mira Dayal for On Verge

Prolonged Exposure Interview Series | by Anthony Tino for Recession Art
Artist Interview: Everything is Index, Nothing is History | by Ivy Challis for Recession Art                         
Medium and Media Challenged in Lawrenceville | by Kurt Shaw for Pittsburgh Tribune Review             


2015- present
Founder, Organizer, Moderator Here/Say | Barnard College-New York, NY.
Here/Say is a seasonal interdisciplinary conversation series geared towards
early-career artists. Each talk features a pair: one artist and a non-artist.
Panelist | IDIO Gallery- New York, NY
“Unpacking the All-Woman Show: Feminism, Intersectionality and Representation”
Panel Series Initiator, Organizer, Moderator | Yale School of Art -New Haven, CT
“Gender, Identity and the Artist’s Career” (Three-part panel series)
Panelist | Yale School of Art -New Haven, CT
“Becoming Artists: Critique, Originality and Identity” (Symposium)