Lisa Blas is a multidisciplinary artist celebrated for her syndicated RSS feed “Monday’s image,” in which she has presented a new pairing of a front page and an artwork from an international museum collection each week since 2015. This ongoing project serves as the impetus for First(s), Monday’s image, a group of hand-assembled, ephemeral still lifes that Blas transposes through photography into dye-sublimation prints on silk. Each mise-en-scène comprises twelve elements, including the front page of The New York Times from August 12, 2020 announcing Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s nominee for Vice President, as well as a number of photographic reproductions of artworks, such as: a marble head of a Ptolemaic queen from the Hellenistic period; three 18th century engravings by Louise-Magdeleine Horthemels; a 19th century painting by Margaretta Angelica Peale – a founding member of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts – long misattributed to her cousin Raphaelle Peale; a painting from Blas’ series “Dawn Studio;” along with an assortment of colorfully painted, enlarged punctuation marks scattered across the composition. The latter two elements are taken from Blas’ painting practice and change from work to work, creating unique images that are similar yet subtly different.
Blas describes these works as the “afterlives of images from the working process of ‘Dawn Studio.’” Begun during the COVID-19 pandemic, “Dawn Studio” is yet another ritual-based exercise for Blas. Every morning, she begins painting at home in the dawn hours, looking out onto the Hudson River – where the sky meets the earth and the earth meets the water. The resulting watercolor and gouache paintings take the form of a lacuna or aperture that is at once a void and a portal – an apt metaphor for Blas’ First(s), which honors pioneering women who are trailblazers in their respective fields.