Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter Christin Kay: Your work is pretty provocative, and it was even seen as a joke by some people when you started. How did you develop courage and conviction?
Lisa Yuskavage: At first, you know, I made work and I was shocked by the criticism. I was like, “Whoa, these people are really mad at me!” And then I was like, well, look, Yuskavage, if you throw a hard punch, something is going to come back at you. I just kind of got used to it and started to embrace it.
I won't say I’d miss it if it doesn’t happen again, I'm not gonna lie! You know, no artist wants anything but to be loved. That is a fact. We're not striving to be hated; to connect to the world is an extremely positive thing for an artist.
Also, all of those challenges kept me trying to figure out how to be clear to myself, and I learned how not to feel indebted to my viewers or the people who are my supporters because if they weren't there, I had to only really think about what the work needed next.
CK: This show at the Aspen Art Museum, "Wilderness," calls attention to landscapes.What’s it like to focus on this part of your work that tends to go unnoticed?
LY: Because it's a survey of my work, you choose a way to look at the work that opens up one's understanding of what I'm doing. The show is co-curated by Christopher Bedford from the Baltimore Museum and Heidi Zuckerman at the Aspen Art Museum, although she's no longer at the Aspen Art Museum. Heidi looked at a show that I had last year at David Zwirner Gallery of 90-some small paintings. And, in that. she noticed a use of sunrises, sunsets, moonscapes.
But when we decided to do [Wilderness], I said, well, I'm interested in this theme as long as this is not as a way to censor what my work is as a totality because I don't think of my work as sexy. I think of it as telling a story that actually hasn't been told before.
CK: You gave an artist’s talk at the Aspen Art Museum last fall, and you said you learned when you were a younger artist that you couldn't not be in your work, even if it was like a still life or a landscape. How do we see you in “Wilderness”?
LY: Art comes from three points. One is other artwork, and then there is a second point, which is the world around us. And there's a third point -- the inner life of an artist. So my own inner life is a story of a painter who happens to be a girl. And there haven't been that many of us. So that is a story. sometimes sometimes sexy, sometimes tragic. And I think that in general, the landscape provides an opportunity to really depict state of mind.