WE "SAT DOWN" WITH LIZ TALAGO AND GOT REAL ABOUT the sins of femininity, love of motorcycles, and her Italian Aunt Tina.
Liz's exhibit "Sweating Like A Whore In Church" is part of the Exploring Ritual Art Gallery at the Nashville Festival. Join us (and Liz!) for the 2nd Annual Nashville Festival. Learn more and RSVP here.
Level Ground: What are you excited about today?
Liz Talago: In spite of all the polarizing rhetoric we’re surrounded by at the moment, I’m meeting new people all the time who are more invested in building bridges than burning them, you just have to know where to look. To me, that’s exciting.
LG: Share with us who you are these days.
LT: Having recently moved to Nashville, I’m enjoying the warm embrace of the creative community here with all its varied expressions, and these days I’m hoping to contribute to that community in some small way.
LG: Tell us about a project of any kind that another person is working on with you.
LT: My partner and I are experimenting with adding an interactive auditory component to the visual photo work I will be sharing at the Level Ground festival in Nashville. The project is an ongoing series of portraits of women in churches with accompanying personal narratives on the sins femininity. I think it will be powerful to hear the women’s stories in their own voices for this showing, and while audio is a completely new medium for me, I love the idea of making this project a multi-scensory experience.
LG: Why and how did you get connected to Level Ground?
LT: My talented friend Sara Green introduced me to Level Ground after we collaborated on a church-themed burlesque event and art show. When I learned more about the organization and the festival, I knew I wanted to get involved. Level Ground explores so many things that I’ve wrestled with in both my personal life and creative work, and brings people from all walks of life together to talk about deeply complex issues like faith, gender, relationships, and acceptance.
LG: Tell us about the last Level Ground event/project that you participated in and why you chose to do it.
LT: This is my first!
LG: What was the first thing you ate today?
LT: Usually I skip breakfast, but this morning I had almond biscotti, homemade by my very Italian Aunt Tina, and carried all the way from Pennsylvania to Tennessee last weekend. This particular biscotti has spoiled me for life, and is the reason why I am now an unapologetic cookie snob.
LG: What does it mean to be in dialogue with someone and how has that been a part of your life?
LT: I believe that it is through sharing experiences that we stand the greatest chance of cultivating the kind of empathy that will result in lasting positive change. But I’ve also learned that if we wait to feel fully accepted before we attempt to engage in dialogue, we won’t be doing much in the way of meaningful talking. Sometimes the uncomfortable conversations are the most important ones.
LG: What is the last book that you read and how would you pitch it to a stranger if you had written it?
LT: I recently revisited my favorite book from childhood, “The Big Orange Splot” by Daniel Pinkwater. Pick it up if you want to raise children who question the establishment, or if you need some home decorating tips, or both.
LG: Tell us about your profile picture on your favorite social media platform or on your email account.
LT: Most of my profile photos involve me and one of my greatest loves, my motorcycle. It’s starting to feel like fall in Tennessee and I can’t wait to get lost.
LG: What is concerning to you about the future, whether personally or more broadly?
LT: Bob Dylan once sang that the worst fear that could ever be hurled was the fear to bring children into the world. He may have had a point, but I worry about the children that are already in this world. When I was a school counselor in the rural West, I witnessed poverty that would shake most people to the core. We have dumpsters full of wasted food, but yet so many children go to bed hungry.
LG: What brings you hope about the future, whether personally or more broadly?
LT: No matter what part of the world I am in, I am consistently reminded that most people, given the chance, want to do good. That brings me hope for the future, and has gotten me through some challenging times.