About Lizza Robb, MSW, PCC
My mother, a painter, taught me to look. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother in the forest. She always pointed out the most tiny, magical discoveries.
As I grew, I discovered that looking was spiritual. I remember sitting on an outcropping in Black Mountain, NC looking out over the Blue Ridge Mountains at 14 and thinking, So this is what people have seen that compelled them to create explanations for the wonder of it all. Perhaps all those explanations point to the same unnamable essence. I call it source, and the world is my church.
Looking can also be political. As a person living in a white body, the message ingrained in me is that I have permission to look at whatever I want--at whomever I want. What might it feel like to be on the other side of that look? Since realizing this, I've become more careful about who I look at, and why and how.
Part of my advantage as a white bodied person is also to not look--to turn away. To close my gaze--and my heart--to the violence and injustice around me. To turn away from the daily hurts and harms inflicted--consciously and unconsciously--by the more advantaged on the less advantaged based on power and identity.
Today, my artwork is as much about not turning away and it is about looking. There are things of beauty that urge me to capture them with my hands. And there are things of pain and sorrow and violence that I choose to look at. To stare at. To connect with. To force myself closer and closer. In my recently posted piece, "The Invisible Air," each feather captures a moment of care among humans and animals impacted by the war being waged on Ukraine. I zoomed in on dozens of photographs from the war on Ukraine to study the faces of Ukrainian people helping one another and animals. To try to touch some semblance of the terror, yes, but also the hope--the enduring compassion. I listened to traditional Ukrainian Hopak dance music while I drew. I cried often. I felt tired. I kept looking. I will keep looking.