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Image turned thirty years old this April. As we reflect on what’s ahead, we asked fifteen visual artists and two singer-songwriters to tell us what they learned and how they changed after turning thirty. Click here for the full collection.

As I’ve matured personally and artistically, I’ve established robust links between art and life. I realized in my thirties that life is art: art is not just a practice undertaken in the studio, but a direct consequence of how I practice life. The body is my studio. As I’ve honed the process of embodied art-making, I’ve discovered that one of my great creative motives is to live in such a way that art becomes the inevitable outcome. The rigorous craft of creating art extends to every aspect of daily life. I try to approach each moment in a way that will expand my experience of time, light, movement, and space. Contemplative practice has taught me that every moment is a potential microcosm for exploring the spiritual and phenomenological aspects of light—the mountaintop moments, certainly, but more importantly, the many moments in the valley.

Lia Chavez. Untitled #5, 2018. Photograph. C-print. 40 x 60 inches, edition of five. 72 x 108 inches, edition of three.


I’m still learning to embrace the boundlessness of art and the trajectory that this implies. Since turning thirty, my artistic output has expanded to encompass performance, sculpture, painting, immersive environments, participatory installations, architectural interventions, photographic processes, technological inventions, and scientific research. All these disciplines are interconnected and inform each other in my study of how human beings experience illumination; however, this multi-spectrum practice makes what I do even more difficult to define.

As I have persevered as an artist, I’ve become increasingly unmoored. The freedom of art is exhilarating when you are very young, but the more you mature, the more it can seem like an abyss. So long as I am faithful to the commitment of creating art from inspiration, the art, when it comes, acts as a light which illumines not only that existential darkness, but the whole world.


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The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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