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Lisa Dengler KV


Exploring the Female Form with Lisa Dengler

Words Vidula KotianImages Franzisa Unterholzner / Parkhotel Mondschein and Lisa DenglerDate 07 March 2023

In an act of opposition to the fast-paced and constantly fleeting, consumption-based landscape she had found herself working in, Lisa Dengler says she began stone carving. The visual arts enthusiast has dabbled in many creative fields, such as architecture, fashion, photography, painting, and graphic design.

Her eye for composition is as evident in her thought-provoking sculptures as it is in the soft-lit self-portraits that fill her feed. Unsurprisingly, Dengler’s meditations on the female form have found a big following on social media. On a golden-hued afternoon, set against the Old-World glamour of the Parkhotel Mondschein, where she’s doing her artist-in-residency, the soft-spoken Dengler regales us with stories about her creative journey, her lunar connection, and how she’s fallen in love for the last time, she thinks, at least visually.

Stone carving A meditative form

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Parkhotel Mondschein Dengler during her hotel residency

How long have you been at Park Hotel Mondschein?

I’ve been here for three weeks.

How has your experience been?

I’d had a very stressful month, so when I got to Mondschein, it became my serene, happy place. I’ve visited here before I started the residency. I came for the first time during New Year’s when my good friend celebrated her birthday. She had worked with the hotel in the past, doing interior styling for their photo shoots and really loved it. She had already pitched the idea of me coming and working here to the owner and the manager. I came here and also fell in love with the whole vibe of the’s very cozy and warm because it’s a small family of everyone who works here. I was actually supposed to go home after my previous residency but I wanted a break and that’s why I decided to come here.

I worked in the garden a lot. It’s so temperate in Bolzano that even though its 14 degrees, in the sun it felt like 25. I focused only on wood this time, which is a new medium for me, but it felt like the right medium for this warm hotel. It was really nice to focus on one material and learn it properly for three weeks. I was asked by a few people, why I want to work at hotels. I like the slight anonymity. You can kind of blend in and get to know a few people and learn a new place. I found it very relaxing even though I was working a lot because I love working, but it was just a nice reset.

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A new medium Dengler worked with wood for the first time

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Inspirational surroundings Mondschein's Old World charm

“I took a break from sculpture for a second but when I came back to it, that felt like home—doing the thing that I love.”

Lisa Dengler

Did you have interactions with the guests?

I’m a pretty introverted person so if people come up and we have a conversation, then yes. I got close to this woman, Celia, consulting for the hotel and she is very extroverted. So I would be in conversations with people when she was there. And I met a few people, who would come every week to the hotel, during my vernissage. Also the curator of the contemporary museum here would come by. I feel like this hotel has become an interesting hub for creative people. It’s really nice to see that they’re creating this little community.

Do you mean local creative people or visitors?

Both. The hotel’s drawing in people from Berlin and Munich and further afield. I feel like this hotel is going to make Bolzano a place to visit.

The art scene seems to be budding here…

There are a lot of good galleries and museums in Bolzano. I’d never heard of this town or known anything about South Tyrol. It’s funny because I was born near Munich but my family also never came here.

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Wood Felt like the right material for the warm interiors

When did you leave Munich?

I was two when we moved to Canada.

So, you’ve moved around quite a bit. Where all have you lived?

I currently live in Mexico City. During university, I did internships in quite a few places in Europe. After university, I moved to New York, then to L.A. for a bit, back to New York, and then I moved to Mexico City.

What made you move to Mexico City?

I had visited a lot for the previous six years before moving. I really fell in love with the food, the people, the art scene, and the visual quality of the city is very romantic because everything’s kind of falling apart, but it’s green. So it’s like this abandoned city that still is full of life and overgrown with nature. I think it’s beautiful.

“I love painting and drawing as well but it’s different when I’m making sculptures because it’s slower. I find it very peaceful.”

Lisa Dengler

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Curves Have drawn Dengler from the start

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Bolzano Mondschein is making this a place to visit

You’ve worked in different mediums such as photography, fashion, did you come to each one?

It’s similar to why I move around so much. I fall in love with things and places and I get really excited about exploring them. The way I arrived at each of those was either intuitively or it was the path that my life took. I was introduced to photography by my father who did it as a hobby. He taught me how to use a camera when I was 12. I took some abstract closeup photos of the knot on the dock of our cottage, and he showed it to all his work colleagues all proud.

I fell in love with fashion as a teenager. In high school, I’d consume fashion magazines and that mixed with photography, turned into fashion photography, which led to blogging. I also taught myself how to code in high school and just started making all these websites. So all these weird passions that I have become the thing and lead me to a place.

With sculpture, I studied architecture and that’s definitely where I learned 3D visual language, but I didn’t connect it with sculpture until four years ago. My boyfriend, at the time, gifted me stone carving classes for Christmas. It was very random actually and I wanted to do something that did not involve my phone or computer. He was going to gift me ceramic classes but felt everyone does ceramics so chose stone. I fell absolutely in love with it and then that took over my life. I also do paintings on the side. I love painting and drawing as well but it’s different when I’m making sculptures because it’s slower. I find it very peaceful.

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Taking away Dengler's persists until a form reveals itself

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Garden studio The temperate climate allowed the artist to work outdoors

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Bolzano Surrounded by the Dolomites

“I like exploring a lot. That helps me to get into different head spaces and constantly be inspired and fall in love with new cities and places and climates and vibes.”

Lisa Dengler

Do you have a favorite material to work with?

Stone is harder to do because it’s very loud. Right now in Mexico City, my studio is in my house. I don’t have a separate space so I can’t work on stone there, which is why I started working on ceramics sculptures. I don’t plan my life. I just go with the flow. I am going to Spain after this where I’ll be working on a few ceramic sculptures. During a residency in Mallorca last year, I made some sculptures out of stone that I just grabbed from the beach. I still have some and they’re very soft, so I’m going to make some more sculptures while I’m there. If I can work on stone at the location that I’m at, then I still will. Every material has its own life.

What draws you to the female form?

I’d never thought about it growing up, but somehow the softness and power of a curve as well as its quiet strength drew me. A curve, to me, is a very feminine sensual energy. My experience is the female experience and that explains so much of it...there’s a lot of sadness and nurturing but then there’s also a lot of strength that has to come from being a woman and being a mother and not being a mother.

Have you also explored the female form in other mediums?

I started exploring it a bit in my photography in the past five years with myself. I feel like we, as women, can take photos of female bodies without it being sexualized and see it as a beautiful form. I was able to explore that with my own body. I always thought it was very interesting that I didn’t get weird comments from people on Instagram, and I thought maybe it somehow translates, that people understand that this is not sexual even though some photos that I post could be viewed as sexual. It’s more of an appreciation of the female form. This is pretty recent. I didn’t grow up looking at books of interesting artists covering the female form. It started with my very first sculpture where it was slightly more abstract but it was this idea of curves intersecting.

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Self-portrait Exploring curves in different forms

I also really enjoy your humorous forms.

This is why I like wood and stone because it’s a similar process of taking away. I don’t have any particular vision in mind when I start or even in the middle, I just continue to take away material until the form reveals itself. And then you just observe it until you realize if something needs to change or if it’s finished. I think that observation and just appreciating the form is part of the process.

How does the moon intersect with this?

It didn’t like hit me that this hotel is called Mondschein and even though I speak German. After each stressful time in my life, when I’m coming out to the other side or I’m about to be finished with a huge deadline where I haven’t slept for days, it always happens to be a full moon and I feel it’s guiding me on my path. One time, I was driving from Toronto to New York with all my sculptures to give to a gallery and the moon was in front of me on the drive the whole way. Another time was in Mexico, I went on a solo trip and there was one path where I would go to the restaurant every night and the full moon was lighting up that path nudging me to go on my journey. I’ve always felt very connected with the moon and so the Parkhotel Mondschein also became a safe haven after my stressful month.

Do you have a style of architecture that you’re drawn to?

I do and it is almost the opposite of the female form: Brutalism. I think it’s the honesty of the material or the texture.

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Architect Paul Rudolph Temple Street Parking Garage in New Haven

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Architect Gordon Bunshaft Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

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Sculptural forms Follow the lines of curve rather than straight edges

Any favorites?

Habitat 67, in Montreal. I have this Taschen book on brutalist architecture and there are all these ones in the Middle East that I would love to see. I was also recently in Bad Gastein at a new hotel that just opened, the cōmodo. There’s a brutalist building there overlooking the valley that’s been closed since the 1980s. I would always walk by there and think it was very cool because it’s so different from everything else there.

My favorite is the Barbican, in London. The last time I was in the city, I went to the conservatory for the first time. I didn’t know there was one in there, but it’s this whole idea of greenness overtaking a space. That’s also why I love Mexico City so much. There’s this honesty of the raw material mixed with nature.

What are some of the things you do to nurture your imagination?

I like exploring a lot. That helps me to get into different head spaces and constantly be inspired and fall in love with new cities and places and climates and vibes. But when I’m at home, I love going through art books usually in the mornings, and then I love going to galleries and museums. I’ve also started inviting friends over to stay with me in Mexico City, because I have a spare bedroom. They are creative people so there is this residency kind of environment where you’re bouncing ideas off of each other. There’s this community aspect that I learned, during my first residency, I actually really love, appreciate, and need in my life.

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Do you have another residency lined up?

No, Spain is kind of self-guided. I’m just going to work at a beautiful house on the coast south of Barcelona.

When you’ve moved around so much, where or what feels like home?

We moved around a lot as kids, not in terms of cities but to different houses every two to three years. My parents would keep a house for a little bit and then sell it for more and get a nicer house and sell it for more. It allowed me to see that you can temporarily make a place your home. Right now my home feels like here because I’ve lived here for a few weeks. Weirdly enough, Mexico City doesn’t feel like home currently so I think it’s just where I am at the moment.

What’s the last thing that you learned about yourself as an artist?

I learned that sculpting is truly what I’m supposed to be doing because I was always afraid that this would just be a temporary thing like all my other passion hobbies and things that had turned into a career. But this feels different. I took a break from sculpture for a second but when I came back to it, that felt like home—doing the thing that I love.

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“I took a break from sculpture for a second but when I came back to it, that felt like home—doing the thing that I love.”

Lisa Dengler, multidisciplinary artist 

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Parkhotel Mondschein

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T Generic 01 Park Hotel Mondschein Bozen Italy

Parkhotel Mondschein

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