Lucy Orta

Contemporary artist and Chair of Art and the Environment, University of the Arts London.

The British artist Lucy Orta was born in 1966. She graduated with an honours degree in fashion-knitwear design from Nottingham Trent University in 1989, and began practising as a visual artist in Paris in 1992. In acknowledgement of her innovative socially driven work, she was nominated as Head of Man & Humanity, a pioneering master program that stimulates socially driven and sustainable design, which she cofounded with Li Edelkoort at the Design Academy in Eindhoven in 2002. She also became a professor at London College of Fashion, and is now the Chair of Art and the Environment at University of the Arts London. In recognition of her academic contribution to the visual arts, Professor Lucy Orta has received an honorary Master from Nottingham Trent University and an honorary Doctor of letters from the University of Brighton.

Lucy's sculptural work investigates the boundaries between the body and architecture, exploring their common social factors, such as communication and identity. She uses the media of drawing, couture, sculpture, performance, video, and photography to realize a singular body of work. Emblematic artworks include, Refuge Wear and Body Architecture (1992–98), portable, lightweight, and autonomous structures representing issues of mobility and survival. Nexus Architecture (1994–2002), public interventions in which participants connect to each other, shaping modular and collective structures that visualize the concept of the social link. Life Guards (2004–ongoing), reflects on the body as a metaphorical supportive framework. Lucy Orta co-founded Studio Orta in 1992 with her husband, the Argentine artist Jorge Orta, and they now work under the co-authorship Lucy + Jorge Orta.

Lucy + Jorge Ortas’ artwork has been the focus of major solo exhibitions and biennale events: Venice Biennale (1995); Johannesburg Biennial (1997); Weiner Secession, Vienna (1999); Barbican Art Gallery, London (2005); Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice Biennale (2005); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2006); the Biennial of the End of the World, Ushuaia, and the Antarctic Peninsula (2007); Hangar Bicocca spazio d’arte, Milan (2008); Natural History Museum, London (2010); Shanghai Biennale (2012); MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome (2012); Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield (2013); Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca and Parc de la Villette, Paris (2014); Museum London, Ontario; COP21 Grand Palais Paris (2015).

In recognition of their contribution to sustainability, the artists received the Green Leaf Award in 2007 for artistic excellence with an environmental message, presented by the United Nations Environment Programme in partnership with the Natural World Museum at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway. In 2013 the artists’ monumental Meteoros was selected for the inaugural Terrace Wires public art commission for St Pancras International in London.

Their work can be found in public and private collections and has been the subject of numerous monographs, notably: Food Water Life. Arles: Actes Sud, 2014; Potential Architecture. Bologna: Damiani, 2013; Clouds | Nuages. Bologna: Damiani, 2012; Fabulae Romanae. Venice: Marsilio, 2012; Lucy + Jorge Orta: Food Water Life. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011; Light Works. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2010; Antarctica. Milan: Mondadori Electa, 2008; Lucy Orta. Contemporary Artist. London: Phaidon Press, 2003.