Liz Cohen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Liz Cohen
Born1973 (age 47–48)
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
NationalityUnited States
Alma materSchool of the Museum of Fine Arts,
Tufts University,
California College of the Arts
Known forperformance art, photography, automotive design, educator

Liz Cohen (born 1973) is an American artist, known as a performance artist, photographer, educator, and automotive designer. She currently teaches at Arizona State University (ASU), and lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Early life and education[edit]

Cohen was born 1973 in Phoenix, Arizona and was raised there,[1] a first-generation American of a Colombian Jewish family.

Cohen graduated with a dual major in 1996 with a BFA degree in studio art from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and a BA degree in philosophy from Tufts University.[1][2][3] At the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Cohen studied with photographer Bill Burke.[4] After graduating in 1996, she travelled to Panama and documented transgender sex workers. She eventually formed relationships with her subjects and started dressing up and performing, blurring the relationship between documentation and performance.[5]

Cohen received an MFA in photography from California College of the Arts (formally known as California College of the Arts and Crafts) in 2000.[1][2]


In 2002, she was a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany.[6] It was in Germany that she became interested in the Trabant, a common car in East Germany during the Cold War.[6] This interest would go on to inform her work, including the Bodywork project.[6] In 2004, Cohen moved to Phoenix, Arizona to be closer to her mother and to focus her efforts on learning about cars and car culture at Elwood Body Works, studying under mechanic Bill Cherry.[5]

In 2011, Cohen appeared as a guest judge on the Bravo television show 'Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (season 2, episode 7).[7]


Between 2008 until 2017, Cohen was the Artist-in-Residence and Head of the Photography Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art.[2] In 2017, she joined Arizona State University (ASU) as an Associate Professor of Photography in the School of Art, within Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.[2]

Bodywork project[edit]

Cohen is most notable for her Bodywork art project and the work Trabantamino (2002–2010) transforming an East German 1987 Trabant automobile into a 1973 Chevrolet El Camino using gears and hydraulics.[8][9][10] As part of the project, Cohen transformed her body and hired a personal trainer and dieted[11] so she could appear in a bikini to be the model for the car at lowrider shows and for a series of photographs used to promote and document the project. She had mentioned wanting to feel less like a performer and more like an "insider" of the masculine car subculture, and the female modeling aspect of the car photos were part of her membership.[4]

Photographs from the project have been shown at solo shows at Fargfabriken in Stockholm and Galerie Laurent Godin in Paris[3] as well as numerous publications, including the cover of German culture magazine Sleek (Winter 2006/2007 issue) and the November 2007 issue of The Believer. The car was outfitted with motion sensors, cameras and projectors to create an interactive exhibit. The project and its documentation was financed primarily through a 2005 grant from Creative Capital.[12]



  1. ^ a b c "Liz Cohen Biography". Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  2. ^ a b c d Trimble, Lynn (2017-05-09). "Liz Cohen to Join ASU School of Art Faculty This Fall". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  3. ^ a b Megan Irwin, "Hard Body: Liz Cohen's infiltrating the lowrider world — and calling it art", Phoenix New Times, October 5, 2006
  4. ^ a b Margolis-Pineo, Sarah (2011-11-03). "Yes, That is a Car Seat in my Low Rider: An Interview with Liz Cohen". Bad at Sports. Retrieved 2020-01-31. My motivation was more about how to become a part of a certain subculture...For the next piece, I wanted to take something where I could go from being on the outside-really being an outsider, to really being an insider, even if I was a freak insider. Different ways to become a part of that car culture are to build cars, to own cars, or to model for cars. So my motivation for doing the modeling was more to become a member-I never did it to make fun of that aspect of car culture. I wasn’t judging it, I was using it.
  5. ^ a b "An Interview with Liz Cohen". Believer Magazine. 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  6. ^ a b c Walsh, Brienne (2010-11-04). "Liz Cohens Car Culture". Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  7. ^ "Work Of Art: The Next Great Artist: "La Dolce Arte"". TV Club. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  8. ^ Berk, Brett. "Photos: cArt: BMW Makes Weird Noises at the Frieze Art Fair (& Bonus Car-Art Slide Show!)". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2020-01-31. Liz Cohen, Trabantamino, 2002–10: This hydraulically powered, extendible, low-rider version of the universally derided Eastern European Trabant was a real show-stopper.
  9. ^ Rosenberg, Karen (2010-10-29). "Liz Cohen: 'Trabantimino'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  10. ^ Heyman, Marshall (2014-07-07). "Liz Cohen's 'Trabantimino' Comes to Bridgehampton". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  11. ^ Keats, Jonathon (July 2003). "High-Performance Artist". Wired. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
  12. ^ "BODYWORK". Creative Capital. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  13. ^ Trimble, Lynn (13 April 2020). "A Phoenix Artist Has Been Named a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2020-04-27.
  14. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation". Retrieved 2020-04-27.

External links[edit]