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Work Samples

Bringing News of Light

Light carried by birdmerhuman, to the awaiting cherub
The images are mobile puppets on a stick against a pink back ground, ink and gouache. The background is 44"L x 32"H.

Leaf Gnosis Puppets against Living Wood.

Puppets, knowing their fate
The 2 Gnosis Leaf puppets were whipped about by a passing car, after they had fallen from 2 nearby trees. Two women sang on the porch.

Dagon Fish God, bringer of language

surreal Gods and Goddesses of water worlds
The Dagon Fish God of Agriculture and Fertility, is the bringer of language. This language will serve to bridge the understanding between Plant Beings and Water Beings. The background for this puppet film is 44'L x 32"W. Created in Fall of 2020, with gouache and ink.

Your Soul Boat, My Soul Boat

Tears will become the river that will take you somewhere. In this particular place you will see the Dagon Twins dancing to the Dirt song, and the soul boat being tossed on existential waves. This sound piece, I created in May 2020 with collaborator, Allison Clendaniel. The visual, I recorded alone on my iphone using hand held puppets moving to a sound track by Lurch and Holler, (Liz Downing, Michael Willis). Allison Clendaniel and I added vocals and Allison created further sound layers with James Young on Oboe . Full credits are at the end of the piece. Moon tells us as directed by Dr.

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About Liz

Baltimore City

Liz Downing's picture
I was born in a smal town in Alabama and grew up working in the family business, The Heart of Dixie Motel.  The Motel was set on a hill with miles of woods behind and HWY 280 in the front. The town lay in the valley below. The Tallapooosa River, just beyone the valley was dammed in 1920 to create electicity, which flooded many small towns and created a huge lake.  This lake covers my ancestors homes and graves.  Many of my images rise from here. I graduated from the small but fierce... more

Psycho dramas in shades of red

When I am working with gouache on a brush, using my elbow and shoulder in the motion , I conjure images from an emotional, psychological place. When drawing with a pencil, I use my wrist and bring about image making from an intellectual place.

In my sleeping dreams, the landscape is often shaded dark red . Using deeply colored paper premakes the place, which is most of the work. All I have to do is inhabit the red space with marks and dots which come together as archetypes or places where the archetypes may crawl from.
After so long of using every color, I am happy to have reason to use predominately one color. Working with one color gives all the power to that shade. All dots and every mark has purpose.

  • Nursery of the Archetypes, Detail

    root drinkers sentient beings drinking honeyed root milk
    detail from, Nursery of the Archetypes, whole piece is 24"W x 32"L. January 2020. Milk from the roots feeds the sentient beings.
  • Rooms In a House, Detail

    monsters in the basement.  sitting properly at table
    This detail shows the basement and first floor . As always the basement holds the monsters and the opportunity for fighting those monsters. On the first floor we are expected to sit properly at the table and entertain the flowers. The whole piece is 24"W x 32"L, created in February 2020.
  • Keeper of the Gentleness

    keeping us human, fragile membrane
    She does what she must to maintain the most fragile membrane, keeping us human, keeping us sentient, so we don't turn to stone.
  • Second Floor hosts the Head

    monsters in the basement.  sitting properly at table
    Being followed by childhood monsters into adult hood, gives one the reason to find out who they are. This piece is 24" W x 32" H, created in January 2020. Gouache and colored pencil on red paper/
  • Nursery of the Archetypes

    archetypes nursing
    Pine tree with reptilian skin and milk giving roots, feeds the underworld nursery. Gouache on red paper, February 2020 24" W x 32" L
  • Knowing Trees, Detail

    landscape, knowing
    Conversation about knowing, time and gravity.
  • Dawning in Tibetan Book of the Dead

    sky petals, roses at sunset
    There will be beautiful flowers before you but do not be comforted, these are projections of your heart. They will press their sweet petals upon your cheek but do not be persuaded. Keep toward the brilliant light.
  • Soul Cabin with Agency

    sun on the water in a cabin
    Footed Cabin holds onto Psyche Cliffs. It is a rugged landscape upon which to build a dwelling, especially when you hope to house the sun and draw the moon down for a visit.
  • Feeding

    Crimson Feeding One Another
    In the Attic, feeding one another. Detail Entire piece is 22"W x 32"L. Gouache on Crimson Paper
  • Bear approaches growing larger with each step.

    Cabin is in the water. Cabin is above the water and the bear approaches growing larger with each step. Change your position in the cabin move closer to the door. Gouache on crimson paper Detail 22"W x 32"L

Puppets in Sentient Landscapes

In my world of paper puppet making, these things are true;

To create a puppet is to make a character when that character didn't previously exist. It is a very big endeavor and I know immediately if this new character is real or a copy or just plain lifeless. A paper puppet must be able to be clearly read, like a symbol, but have a presence about them so to make you feel in their company, so to make you care about their story.

The backgrounds are home to sacred cabins and landscaped with sentient beings.

Puppet making is still new to me and I am figuring my way through.

  • Byzantine Devil visiting Ancient Rooted, Unrooted.

    Byzentine Devil, Ancient stump
    The Devil comes for a visit and to perhaps persuade the ancient stump to spare a splinter of eternal wood. The stump has many visitors.
  • MerbirdHuman brings Light to share with the Cherub

    2 puppets against a pink background
  • Dagon Fish God, bringer of language

    green moon, fish being, dogon fish man
    Dogon Fish God Bringer of Language visits the Leaf Being who requested his assistance in speaking with the Humans. Since the Fish God is part human, the Leaf Being thinks this may be possible, as she had discussed with her friend above, the moon.
  • soul boat puppet and bird headed cherub puppet

    Bird Headed Cherub
    The boat has come to receive instructions from the bird cherub, where to flow, with no occupant and no paddles even if.
  • Soul Cabin who holds the Light

    wooden house puppet waiting, as a house does
    This is a Puppet of a Cabin who holds in safe keeping the Light. She has many visitors, so she waits and they come. In using her for little psyche dramas, I allow characters to attempt to steal an ember, borrow a timber or put out her light.
  • Tender Knowing

    How many many greens
    Orange Puppet Hand resting on the Gnostic Leaf Being. This orange hand is moved by a stick which is moved by the spirit. The leaf is not a puppet and remains in the place she is given. Detail of a 44"W x 32"H gouache on green board created December 2020
  • wooden owl puppets in a crankie box

    owls, wooden owls, byzantine owls
    This box is for holding a scrolling panorama of images on paper. But another use for it is for viewing puppets and for creating dramas against a faux wood background. The box is 5' tall, 3' wide.
  • Woman from Crete, 500 BCE, Puppet visiting the Soul Cabins

    With feet and fingers at the ends of their feet, the cabin holds on
    This is a still moment in the life of a puppet who is visiting the soul cabins, in search of her personal one. This was created in Fall of 2020 and I am in the process of creating sound to accompany the film.
  • Leaf Gnosis against Living Wood

    Gnosis, the knowing Leaves
    Leaf Puppets! One day, two women were singing on the porch. A car passed by through fallen leaves. Giving the leaves a different perspective, but still no personal agency.
  • The set for the puppet sound piece, "Just before waking".

    Bear in the Town which grows larger with each step.
    This is a toy theater set up of wooden cut outs which puppets move through and around. These images are taking place just before you wake. There was a bear who got off the train and that bear grew larger with each step. Crushing a path through the town, through the woods to the room where you sleep with your family.

Black is the Backdrop of the Universe

When working against black, every dot is evident and every mark is meaningful. To me the series is about reduction, even before beginning. Which marks are necessary and which marks are implied? I love to paint the cosmos in this way. Every dot is a galaxy. Every dash is an eon.

  • Twilight Visitors to the Rooted One

    soul boat
    These are images in several shades of black and several shades of white. They depict a visit between elementals, archetypes at a fragile and shimmering time of day.
  • Stump with Agency and Means

    surreal wood, wood with hands and feet
    This piece is on Black board, images created with gouache and ink. 32"H x22"W . Created in January 2021. The stumps around the lake are underwater half the year. When the town was first flooded, the trees were tall and old already. The Alabama Power Company flooded valleys and towns by damming the Tallapoosa River. The water level is raised and lowered according to the power needed by nearby towns. Some times of year we get to visit the stumps, some times of year we don't.
  • Scorpio Moon.

    Moon November Moon
    The Moon is a piece of the Earth, a favorite fact. This is an oil painting on a flat circle of wood against a black back drop. I attach this moon to a stick and hold it like a sign, while singing songs of longing to the Loblolly Pine. 25"x 30" x 1/2" 2018
  • Human Cabin Under the Cosmos

    The human cabin with her domestic scene, exists under the murmuring of the Cosmos.This is a detail of larger piece which is 22"x32".Gouache on black paper 2019
  • Breasted Lantern

    Lantern
    From the lantern series, an oil lamp on black. To create form with lines is a beautiful trick, one I will never tire of. This breasted lantern magnifies light.
  • Leading the Way with Tears

    This Merbirdhuman is traveling the darkest path at the loneliest hour. This piece is from the Lantern Series and is Gouache, Ink and colored pencil, 22"x 32".
  • Cosmic Bouquet in a Shroud

    flowers and funerals
    Flowers and funerals make a beautiful pair. Gouache on black with colored pencil. 2019 22"x 32"
  • Cosmic Laundry

    wash day
    A drawing for a theatrical set placed in the Bardo. 2019 22'x32" Gouache on black board

Story Boarding Monsters

Within the grids on black paper, with gouache, I catalog the dream actions of childhood monsters who have continued to live into my adulthood. These monsters are: The bear who got off the train and crushed a path through the pines to my family's living room, where we all sat. The goblin who lived under the slop sink, behind the mops and brooms. My dead grandfather's head, which appeared in the corner of the room, more opaque on anxious days. The girl with a Moon Head who followed me too closely. The crusty drunk, being frighteningly unaware.

  • Detail of Lifting the Veil in Small Squares

    heroes, sheroes, monsters, sacred eggs
    Monsters, Heroes and Flowers in gouache with colored pencil. This is a detail of a 22"x 33" drawing, created in 2019.
  • Corn and Moon and the Sisters Inside the Wood

    Monsters arise during the phases of sleep and inform the dreamer of the deepest layers of existence.
  • Moonheads sing the stories

    Life in all it's death talk makes us long for the Moon and our Mothers. Gouache and colored pencil. 25" x 34" 2019
  • Punch the Monster

    The life in the subconscious links with the lives of all others. Here, I am displaying the dreams of my childhood and how they have informed my life. Gouache and colored pencil on black. 2019
  • Bear got off the Train

    My dead Grandfather's head appeared in the corner of the room and never left.
  • Me and Momma went to town, to the Piggly Wiggly .

    Dawn, Sunset, First Americans, Grasping at the Moon
    Dreams of the first Americans making their way into daylight but on the other side of the veil, I am riding into town with my Mother to the Piggly Wiggly, to the Big Bear, grocery stores with animal names. Gouache and colored pencil 2019
  • Monster over my shoulder

    On the back of a stumbling drunkard, my baby was tied.
    In a dream, just before giving birth, I dreamt that my baby was tied to a crusty drunk who was unaware. I was running after them, but running in place. This piece was created in 2019 as part of an effort to decipher dreams by capturing the main action and turning them into psyche dramas or hieroglyphs.
  • In a boat, casting stars

    Casting stars from a boat, My dead Grandfather's head, the Bear who got off the Train, the Goblin under the Slop Sink, all are in these squares as I try to make into symbols these actions from dreams.

Dream Images in scrolling panoramas

This group of work is from a series of ink and gouache drawings on large sheets of deeply colored paper. These are illustrations of dreams, or paring down of dreams into an image, then into a symbols. I have experienced these dreams during pivitol points of upheaval and change in my life. Each dream is illustrated in 6-8 drawings and taped together, end to end and wound onto a scroll. Then I roll the drawings through a viewing window, in a device called a Crankie. I accompany these scrolling drawings with songs, which I hope further illuminate the meanings.

  • The Moon and the Loblolly

    Crankie image, loblolly pine
    The Moon has long wished to nest in the boughs of the Loblolly Pine, but in her crashing down, she broke all the loblolly's boughs. Knowing this to be true, they cried, they kissed. Gouache and Ink on Orange Paper, 2018.
  • Lighting the Way, We Need All the Animals

    animals and lanterns and human oil
    A bird merhuman traveling through Red carries a lantern. I used mostly dots and dashes of black ink and white gouache on red board. 30" x 30" 2019
  • In the Rosy Dawn Waiting

    Waiting
    The psychic stump waits for now, while the archetypes swim up or perch for renewing visits.
  • Baptist Church Steeple came flowing, bell ringing

    In this dream, womb waters had just broken and sent a flood down the river, sweeping away church steeples and household items.
  • Pink Goblin sat under the slop sink.

    Pink Goblin, behind the mops and brooms
    From the Dream series, The Goblin lived under the slop sink behind the mops and the brooms. The Goblin would rise and sway, wide smile, when I passed by. And I would be running and running in place.
  • Air Newly Formed

    The Air in this dream was like Air that had never before been lived in or breathed.
  • Bear on the train

    Bear, pink, Bear, golden eyes
    This Bear was always riding the train in my recurring dream. He would get off the train deep in the woods and head toward my family home. I knew he was coming and I was always, in the dream, trying to reposition my family from the couch and recliner, so they wouldn't be crushed by the bear's footsteps. The Bear grew larger with each step and I grew smaller as he approached.
  • Babylonian Bulls, carved from stone

    babylonian bulls
    From the walls along the staircase in the Palace of Darius, two great bulls were fighting. Later in a dream, on a high red dirt plateau, I saw from my bird's eye view, the same two bulls, drowning in the quickly rising waters. Ink and Gouache, 22"x 32" 2018
  • Anxious Moon

    red moon
    From the Moon series, the skies articulate the state of the psyche. Gouache and ink on red board, to be cut out for a hand held puppet. 2019

The Sun and Moon Series

These pale colored papers of Cerulean, Robins Egg and Blush, allow the transparencies of the sky, such as the motion of the clouds and the faces of the Deities, to be seen. Using gouache and ink, I can draw with liquid lines, the silhouettes of pines, whom I love. How better to conjure water than with another liquid. Dots and lines of white gouache are capable to describe light on water. All these things make it possible for me to relay the beauty of the land and water and calm the angst for a little while. All the paper is 22"x 32" and year created was 2017.

My Soul Boat, Your Soul Boat

Tears will lift your boat, Tears will become the river that will take you somewhere. In this particular place you will see the Dagon Twins dancing to the Dirt song, and the soul boat being tossed on existential waves.

This sound piece, I created in May 2020 with collaborator, Allison Clendaniel. The visual, I recorded alone on my iphone using hand held puppets moving to a sound track by Lurch and Holler, (Liz Downing, Michael Willis). Allison Clendaniel and I added vocals and Allison created further sound layers with James Young on Oboe .
Full credits are at the end of the piece.

Moon tells us as directed by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, "Tears will take you somewhere. Tears will become a river and lift your boat off the dry rocks on the psyche's shore."
Dogon Fish God Man Twins dance to the music of the Seed, with these words:
Plant a tree
Grow sappling tall
Fell the tree
Build a Home
Fire Eats Home
Ground Eats Wood
Wood is Dirt
Dirt wants Seed

  • Your Soul Boat, My Soul Boat

    Tears will become the river that will take you somewhere. In this particular place you will see the Dagon Twins dancing to the Dirt song, and the soul boat being tossed on existential waves. This sound piece, I created in May 2020 with collaborator, Allison Clendaniel. The visual, I recorded alone on my iphone using hand held puppets moving to a sound track by Lurch and Holler, (Liz Downing, Michael Willis). Allison Clendaniel and I added vocals and Allison created further sound layers with James Young on Oboe . Full credits are at the end of the piece. Moon tells us as directed by Dr.
  • Visitor to the one who stays

    boat puppet and gouache stump
    Soul Boat visiting the Rooted One

Oh little cabin in my soul, I am thief and I am guard

Created in March of 2020, in isolation.
I was invited to create a toy theater piece.

I created this sound piece with Michael Willis, from home sounds that I collected with a PCM field recorder, of backyard chickens, keyboard typing rhythm, boiling water and coffee perculating. I sang along with this home sound track just a little while I moved the puppets.

The story is this; The Hand puppet with Reptile Eye, who is me, would love to steal the light . The Moon , protector of the light within the cabin is me also and will not allow the theft.

  • Moon and the Loblolly

    With Underworld Orchard, (Hanna Olivegren, Steve Strohmeier and Liz Downing) I created and performed this crankie. I have performed this scrolling panorama of images in many settings including the Baltimore Museum of Art and Black Cherry Puppet Theater.

Moments Before Waking

I created this piece early in the Pandemic, by using materials that I had around the studio and old sound tracks from field recordings and Lurch and Holler's sound pieces , (Michael Willis and Liz Downing). I didn't yet know how to trim off the beginnings and ends of videos, so I needed to film in one long take. When filming, I played the CDs and tapes in the room for ambient sound and then I sang while moving the puppets.

Molesuit Choir

"Liz Downing & Rupert Wondolowski spoke of mixing it up one night at the Fair brothers' Shakemore Festival. Then Liz somehow transformed Rupert's poetry into melody. The passing of fellow friend and a startling poet, Chris Toll, onto the astral plane filled them with an urgency to create an aural life raft upon which to float gently on the ravaging waves of time."

https://molesuitchoir.bandcamp.com/
http://www.lizdowningart.com/music.html

  • Today,

    Today, I thought, was going to be The Day, but it was Another. Problem is that the Beginning and The End Cannot be Found. I created this video in my music room against a backdrop of storytelling squares, using my phone on a tripod for the visual. The sound tracks, I recorded on a PCM100 field recorder. Greg Hatem added synth and effects. The words are taken from a Rupert Wondolowski poem. I created this for Molesuit Choir's participation in an online show at Rhizome in Washington, DC. Molesuit Choir is Rupert Wondolowski, Liz Downing and Greg Hatem.
  • Petula

    Molesuit Choir is Rupert Wondolowski and Liz Downing. I recorded this Molesuit song using a PCM100 field recorder and an iphone. Greg Hatem engineered the sound and added synth. Recorded for the beloved music festival, Shakemore, in July 2020.
  • MSC Lonesome Cowboy

    Recorded using a PCM100 field recorder on my porch in July 2020 with Rupert Wondolowski. Greg Hatem added synth and sparkles. Words by poet Chris Toll, fashioned into a song by Rupert.
  • MSC Scrap Heap Porch Rendition for Rhizome.

    Recorded on my Lauraville porch during the big cicada swelling of Pandemic summer 2020. Molesuit Choir is Liz Downing and Rupert Wondolowski. Words by Rupert Wondolowski.
  • molesuit porch October

    In the falling Leaves, humming along with the universe, we sing of Today, hopes, disappointments, hopes. October 2020
  • My Eyes Need Oiled

    I created this tiny video using a puppet and a gouache drawing adding a remix of Molesuit Choir's "My Eyes Need Oiled" for the sound track. Greg "Lovey" Hatem made the remix and engineered the sound. 2019

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