Meet the artist creating a new lens of female empowerment
Liza Voloshin is a powerful woman. Just walking into her downtown Manhattan apartment – freshly saged, full of floor to ceiling nudes, global beats in the background – there’s an intangible energy in the air. As an artist devoting herself to “creating balance, harmony and feminine energy in the world,” Liza’s female spirit manifests in all aspects of her life –her voluptuous figure, nurturing aura and passionate spirit – and she’s using film as a platform to highlight the feminine mystique in a public space. The manifold talent translates her vision through film, photography and fashion (she’s the Creative Director for female artisan brand Piece & Co) with the sole intent of “bringing the patriarchy down.”
Liza grew up in war-torn 90s USSR (present day Estonia), caught between the divided Russian and Estonian cultural conflict. “I always felt like I had to tone down my femininity to be successful, or to appease society, like I had to play a character in a role,” she said of her stark upbringing. It wasn’t until her parents attained a green card on a whim and the family moved to Chicago where Liza would go on to study Economics, as urged by her parents, and start working as an investment banker. She found it to be stifling, soul-sucking, and an eye-opener to “a very patriarchal system.” “When you’re young [in these environments] you don’t realize you’re being harassed, stereotyped or condescended at the workplace – you just assume its normal.” She took this realization to heart, quitting the cushy finance world for a photo assistant job in New York.
“You have to define your life and the world around you,” she judiciously notes, now a decade after that initial leap of faith. “Moving to New York made me realize that I don’t need to appease anyone,” and the city has become her launching point for an artistic career dedicated to “telling the stories of amazing women, showcasing them and making their voices heard in a way that they typically aren’t.” And how does she accomplish such a lofty task? In depicting real women as superwomen. For a commissioned series with Nike Women, she didn’t choose archetypal celebrities, influencers or supermodels as subjects but lesser known female athletes – the first hijabi Olympic figure skater, a Russian fencer, and an Emirati Parkour coach. Liza’s work is unequivocally shot through the feminine gaze, but she welcomes the masculine undertones with open arms. “We live in such a masculine world, my work is flooded with feminine energy to create the balance. I think women are sexy, powerful and strong. Sexiness can be empowering to women when we see ourselves portrayed in that way. Just because we’re fragile doesn’t mean we’ll break. We can be soft and tender and still get shit done.”
She sees the world through an empowering lens, and is intent on extracting the magic of everyday life. In recalling an anecdote surrounded by host of people rolling on MDMA – she didn’t partake – she realized how uniquely she perceives the world. The serotonin-laden drug “makes everything look beautiful, but it doesn’t work on me. Everyone was roaring how beautiful the sun and sky was, and I was like, ‘but it’s always beautiful!!’” She makes beautiful pictures with a beautiful purpose. “Life is difficult, it’s hard to always find joy – especially with all the monsters on the cover of the New York Times – but I do.” She uses her camera to bring her luminous vision to the masses, “highlighting the beauty in women and finding that secret everyday joy.” “Just as when you look at a flower petals full of secrets, I love looking at a woman and seeing the many layers that are floating in her. I love to delve into her and find that joy inside.”
More than breaking down the patriarchy, she’s creating a community through her work. “There’s this stigma that art comes from a really dark place, that you have to be a tortured Hemingway-esque soul to create, but it can also come from a pragmatic place. Art has the ability to change minds.” And she’s not alone in this belief. Liza is co-founder of Chez Conversations, a female art collective that she founded with Cleo Wade (poet/artist), Mia Moretti (DJ), Kate Greer (Actress) and Margot (songstress), to create a safe community for highlighting their own work and that of fellow female artists. They’re building their platform through many mediums; from hosting panels, to collaborating on commissioned installations, to bringing female artists like Elaine de Kooning’s overshadowed work to light at the National Portrait Gallery. “She gave abstract expressionists their name but nobody talked about her, [just her husband]. Her work’s rolled up in attics in the Hamptons.” “That’s the root of Chez Conversations, sharing these stories to create something that’s positive. Women are stronger together; they invest in education and families. When we invest in women we create safer societies. When we all hold that space together as friends and as sisters, we raise everyone else around us up too.”
Liza‘s work is rooted in underscoring the tales of past and present artists, but she embraces the technological advances of the future as well. “With the digital space, there’s a beauty in having something with no barriers geographically or socially. We can keep these flows of information very open. Even with trolls and haters – and there’s lots of them – its interesting because if you give it a lot of loving energy you’re able to change communications. So digitally and socially you’re able to have such a greater impact. Instead of relying for one space to showcase my work, the world is my space.”
The key though is, “how do we use technology and art to enable everyone to get on the same page?” She sees art-tech as a vehicle to bring people together to increase our experiences in real life, to enhance and not exhaust human communication. Her work is an example of being that change, of bringing people together and creating a future that is indeed female.