Liza Sylvestre is an American visual artist born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is known for detailed abstract mixed media paintings and drawings. Her current work explores new media such as installation and video art. Much of her work revolves around our sensory perceptions and misconceptions of the world. Her incubator project engaged her own deafness as a condition that is sensory as much as it is cultural and political.


Working with professors Gordon Legge and Peggy Nelson of the Center for Applied and Translational Sensory Science at the University of Minnesota, Sylvestre sought deep connections between the artistic and the scientific approaches to sensory research and education.


Sylvestre held a The Sensory Loss Symposium in September 2018 as the culmination of this collaboration that addressed the lack of societal and institutional awareness to sensory disabilities. Read Liza’s reflections here. In February 2019, Sylvestre received the Citizen Advocate Award from the State of Minnesota’s Commission on the Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing in recognition of her advocacy and her work in producing The Sensory Loss Symposium. Writer Minh Nguyen wrote about the symposium and Liza’s work in a 2019 issue of Art in America, which you can read here >>


Through my latest multidisciplinary work I explore the ways in which our senses alter our experience and perception of the world. I’m interested in how we use the intersection of our senses to communicate, and I approach this as an individual who is medically, although not culturally, deaf. My long, slow progression into deafness started when I was six years old and culminated in 2003, when I decided to undergo a cochlear implant surgery, which carved away some of my skull bone and muscle and placed a bionic computer-ear into the smallest crevices beyond my eardrum. I find that my definitions of “language” and “communication” are continuously shifting and are directly tied to my own ability to navigate these concepts with my disability.

As an artist who has been a painter and a drawer since 2010, I feel an obvious and welcome shift in my studio practice through the new work I am creating. My art practice has expanded significantly this year, enveloping video performance, interactive performance, and sound manipulation. Parallel to these new genres, I am steadily adding to my body of abstract mixed media. These paintings and drawings result from an intuitive decision-making process, a dialogue between myself and the art forming in front of me. Nothing is planned, and a final “outcome” is not determined as I work; this has motivated me to investigate my relationship to my self and my senses.

Back to the Collaboration Incubator program >>