Visual Arts

Lisa Albinger: A Conversation with the Artist

Lisa Albinger's "Holy Mary Mother of Birds" opens with a First Friday artist's reception from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, August 6. New Times rapped with her about her latest series of works, which will hang at Perihelion Arts through month's end. The following is in Albinger's words:

"Holy Mary Mother of Birds" portrays a variety of roles women play, whether in the Catholic Church or at home; the mother, the nun, the saint and the priest. This isn't just a girl's tea party; men certainly have a role in the show as the largest piece is sticking up for them. I play on the boys side for that one. And I gave St. Francis an erection. Erections are good, it's how we all got here.

Read more about Albinger's take on religion, sex, and why she refuses to use computers with her work after the jump ..

This show is about the power of choice. Many humans forget they have a choice in every single thought and act they play out. Some women birth children in hopes of masking their own insecurities and to feel loved. Many use their male partners until they've wasted away like carcasses in a desert. Then the mothers play the victim, "woe is me," crucifying themselves on a cross in order to get attention. It's a game. Remember, you CHOSE to reproduce. Women who are strong and love themselves don't play these games. The world needs less game players. Thus is the story of The Emancipation of Men. (Haha, as "All That She Wants" by Ace of Base comes on the radio . . .)

On the other hand, nuns have chosen to dedicate their lives to God; surrendering the roles of wife and motherhood. I completely honor their decision, yet I want them to experience a man, both sexually and mentally; to kiss someone you love or even just someone you lust for; to feel the pangs of love and the pangs you endure when that love has gone. Why can't a nun love God and a mortal man at the same time? Don't most of us love a higher power to some degree and have affairs of the heart? I love "The Universe" as I call it, and I also love intimacy! My nun painting was very sad for me to create. These thoughts kept streaming through my mind. My heart completely bled for the nuns. Bless them.

Since childhood I've been fascinated with St. Francis of Assisi and St. Elizabeth of Hungary. In my early school years, I continuously checked out the library book on St. Elizabeth and in middle school encountered the massive St. Francis painting by Francisco de Zurbarán at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I was hooked. I couldn't explain my fascination until the past year when I realized I had a past life with Francis, and many as a monk. I didn't know Francis and Elizabeth knew each other until recently. Liz was a nun and 24 when she died after working with Francis as a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. I'm convinced they had sexual relations. I mean, she was in her early 20s, how could he pass that up? So I painted Francis expressing his desires, although cloaked, he's still a man and has man parts.

I still paint mostly with cotton swabs. I like my work to have an "unperfected" and real look to them. Too much smoothing everything over makes it look like it was done on a computer and I'm dead against using computers in my art.

My work has always geared toward the empowerment of women, but I found the masses related my work with the likes of fairies and Tim Burton; two things I tolerated but never was a huge follower of. I have always been my own enigma and don't pay attention to what other people do.

I've been attending the Unitarian Universal Church in Portland, Oregon [where Albinger currently resides]. The reason I started going is because Frank Lloyd Wright was a Unitarian. I'd really like the Frank Lloyd Wright foundation to visit my show, and work with them somehow, artistically, in the future.

For more information, visit

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Steve Jansen
Contact: Steve Jansen