LIGHT IT UP
Artist Lia Halloran’s stunning work explores her loves of skating and science.
By Kristie Griffith
Lia Halloran roams Los Angeles in the dead of night. In her explorations, she’s scaled fences and snuck into skate parks, attempted to bribe a security guard, been chased out of Bronson Canyon by the police, and nearly had a gun pulled on her in an East L.A. parking lot. It’s all in a night’s work, and it’s all in the name of art.
The results are on display in Halloran’s show Dark Skate, which opened in Boston this Spring and travels to New York’s DCKT this summer, and consists of five photos and five paintings involving skating, physics and light.
The process is relatively simple: Halloran finds interesting places to skate, and goes there at the darkest times possible, usually the middle of the night. While her collaborator photographer Meredyth Wilson sets up her cameras, Halloran explores the site on her board, studying various lines. She then dons a headlight or attaches a bike light to her wrist, cuing Wilson to first open and then close the camera’s shutter. The trick? The exposures can last as long as four minutes.
The resulting pictures look like they’re taken at dawn—the darkness is all light—and Halloran herself is reduced simply streaks of light, or occasionally a ghostly presence. The camera doesn’t really register her, but it tracks her graceful, elegant movements.
Halloran’s work is a brilliant synthesis of two aspects of her youth. A California native, she’s been skating since she was 12 (and appeared in the pages of Thrasher by the age of 14). She credits her dad for passing along his love of the ocean, but Halloran also inherited his interest in motion and physics. “His scientific background probably had more influence on me as a painter than anything else,” Halloran says. He encouraged her to consider the energy and physics of movement, both consistent themes in her artwork and specifically the Dark Skate photos.
While pursuing her MFA at Yale, Halloran also took classes in astronomy and physics, eventually traveling to Chile with a research grant in astrophotography. That pursuit sparked the idea for the Dark Skate series; it’s science and light with a young, urban twist.
“I never thought I would use skateboarding or physics in my paintings,” Halloran says. “I always knew I wanted to be a painter and I had these two things that somehow fit together but I didn’t know how.” Now, though, it’s clear she’s found her niche, her beautiful place in the universe.