Hats In a Pandemic – Solo Exhibit

Featuring the work of Multimedia Artist

Lizz Daniels

Hats in a Pandemic Exhibit

Origin Story

A note from Lizz, aka The ‘Subversive Granny’

“These hats came into being at the beginning of self-quarantine in March 2020, when ‘normal’ ceased to be normal and where everything took on a strange perspective. It was a time when I felt a certain sense of powerlessness creeping in. As such, It was the perfect time to embark on a creative journey such as this. Everything fell into place easily; the idea of using the hats as a visual expression of what I was feeling during a world crisis, the availability of materials to make them, all of which I had been collecting for years and above all time, unfettered time without pressure to bring them to life. My creative imagination went into top gear and there was no stopping me. The first hat in the series, “Subversive Granny” stems directly out of the the challenges and confusion I was facing at the onset of the pandemic. It was hard to sort fact from fiction, and with that energy informing me, I went ahead and made my tinfoil hat creation. When I mustered up the courage to share the  image online, I was surprised and pleased that people connected with it. This kicked off a 60-day creative project in which I committed to creating art every day, producing an incredible series of fun and satirical hats to express myself through the challenges of the early pandemic days.

Social media was a super outlet for my creativity where I unintentionally suddenly found an audience who loved what I was doing. I put myself ‘out there’, something as an artist I have been trying to do for years. Boldness entered my life.

As an older woman of 67, the photographs you see in this exhibit are authentically revealing the many sides of my fun-loving nature and my love of clowning. I fearlessly reveal myself, without worrying of what people will think, I am not concerned by the etched lines on my face or the sagging skin round my neck, and this is a huge part of the creative statement I am making. Unless one is well known or has celebrity status older woman tend to fade into the background having outlived their shelf life. Hats in a pandemic changed all this for me, and for 60 days I was my true authentic self. The hats gave permission for me to be me, freeing characters that had long been suppressed and enabling me to present myself to the public in an unashamed completely over the top way!”

“Subversive Granny”

Materials: Tinfoil and found objects

Virtual Show

April 21 Museum Show


Lizz, on the Hat Creation Process…

“The ideas for hats presented themselves to me out of the ethers and I was often surprised by the elaborate outcome of the meaning behind each creation. Most of the hats came into being fairly easily, some took days, a few stayed as an idea for weeks before finally being birthed, often in a flurry of excitement. Others were made well in advance before being presented, waiting for the right moment to be shown and still others just popped up and were made in a jiffy. The title/name of the hat might be in the first idea or it might come later when the hat is completed.

They all began from a sudden thought, a kind of light bulb illumination and grew until fruition. I saw pictures in my head and tried to follow through immediately gathering the required accoutrements. I always got incredibly excited in the early stages of putting a new hat together, going so quickly I frequently messed up what I was doing. I would knock off pieces I had just attached or lose a vital addition that had taken so long to find by unconsciously putting it somewhere whilst looking for something else.

The vital addition could be anywhere in a multitude of messes strewn over the floor or on a number of work surfaces that seemed to increase as the hat frenzy took over. My studio became like an obstacle course requiring skilled stepping round and hopping over. I confess I spent a lot of time hunting for mislaid items during the hat attack, although most times synchronicity was at play and the missing piece turned up along with some other relevant addition. A lot went missing, scissors disappeared as did string and elastic, but other things which I had forgotten about showed up at exactly the right time, so the energy was always very motivating.

I loved making the hats and I was in my element doing what I loved doing. Being creative is a vital component of life and under these circumstances I positively thrived. The Heyoka archetype in me took over and by allowing myself to be both silly and thought provoking, I overcame boundaries that have stood in my path for years. The relief of finally putting to use some of the vast stash of materials I have been collecting for years was a blessing.”

Lizz, on Hat Making and Clowning Around

I have been a hat maker since the early 90’s and used to travel to festivals in England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands selling them in my old green Renault Traffic van called Tommy, (named by Rosie). Rosie who was alive and laughing at that time was often with me and we had such fun, we did this together for about 4 years until that little love changed dimensions and left planet earth. I shared Rosie with her father who moved further and further away from where I lived, finally moving to Southern Spain, which was how the hat trade started up.

In the 80’s juggling and fire spinning became quite popular and a whole new genre of renegade circus performing acts sprang up everywhere. (Anyone remember the French circus group called Arkaos?)  To accommodate this interest in juggling, trapeze, fire, clowning and other circus related skills, (no animals folks), Juggling and circus conventions began to become popular, especially in France. They were wonderful meeting places where not only could I improve my own juggling and clowning abilities, but they presented a great hat selling opportunity. It made all those long-haul journeys bearable and provide some sort of income that covered the costs of fuel. So, I made funny hats, individual crazy hats of all sizes, a hat for every head. I had a hat for everyone, and they went down well. I got to be known as The Hat Lady. Hats have been part of my life.

And here I am again. Making hats. This time making hats for me, using hats as a both a creative expression and a voice. What is arising as I make these artistic pieces is something I had not predicted; I am coming face to face with myself. This is both physically – I look in the mirror a lot, and mentally – I reflect on what I see.  For some years I really worked on clowning, attending courses here there and everywhere with some of the best mime and clown artist ever, and one thing all clowns must learn is that working with the clown demands that you look inside, it demands that you use your face as an expression. It turns out I have an elastic type of face and I can make the strangest expressions. I must admit over the years I have spent hours in front of mirrors making faces, faces that few people see, faces that NOBODY has seen. Some of them are quite scary and a lot are definitely not beautiful. This is where I am now, beginning to step over the line. The rebel in me is saying nothing to lose, don’t be scared, tomorrow maybe dead… I don’t know where this is all leading but something has changed in me.

“Finally, there came a point when I was ready for the first photo sitting; the camera is prepared, my props are handy, and the hat is ready. All is in place. Except its not. A lot of fumbling and faffing occurred as it was quite difficult doing the shoots myself. All the photos were done with my phone and apart from one or two such as the Brain Train I have taken them all myself as ‘selfies’. As a selfie avoider I had to overcome the negative connotations I had about doing selfies and this alone was a huge step of boldness.”

On the Heyoka ‘Sacred Clown’ Archetype…

“The heyókȟa symbolizes and portrays many aspects of the sacred beings, the Wakíŋyaŋ. His satire presents important questions by fooling around. They ask difficult questions, and say things others are too afraid to say. Their behavior poses questions as do Zen koans. By reading between the lines, the audience is able to think about things not usually thought about, or to look at things in a different way.

Principally, the heyókȟa functions both as a mirror and a teacher, using extreme behaviors to mirror others, and forcing them to examine their own doubts, fears, hatreds, and weaknesses. Heyókȟa have the power to heal emotional pain; such power comes from the experience of shame—they sing of shameful events in their lives, beg for food, and live as clowns. They provoke laughter in distressing situations of despair, and provoke fear and chaos when people feel complacent and overly secure, to keep them from taking themselves too seriously or believing they are more powerful than they are.

In addition, sacred clowns serve an important role in shaping tribal codes. Unbound by societal constraints, heyókȟa are able to violate cultural taboos freely and thus critique established customs.[4] Paradoxically, however, by violating these norms and taboos, they help to define the accepted boundaries, rules, and societal guidelines for ethical and moral behavior. They are the only ones who can ask “Why?” about sensitive topics; they use satire to question the specialists and carriers of sacred knowledge or those in positions of power and authority.”

~ Wikipedia contributors. “Heyoka.” Wikipedia, 10 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heyoka.

Artist Bio

Lizz Daniels – A Transformational Artist living in Norway

I have always been passionately creative about recycling and transformation, but my artist career really took off after the death of my daughter in 1996, when my whole life changed, and art became my salvation. Theatre and the art of sacred clowning have also found their way into my life and I particularly identify with the North American Plains Indian Heyokha archetype. On the tail of rising feminism and influenced by my American sisters, I trained in 1982 as an Assertive Facilitator and worked in the fields of effective communication, anger management and sexuality for women. Women and self-development have since that time been a large part of my life.

At 56 I went to art college for 2 years and had the time of my life. After moving to Norway in 2011, my art took on a whole new perspective with several successful exhibitions. Online art courses led me to connect with some fantastic and well-known women artists. Michal Shimoni, Nancy Reynar, Flora Aube, who I trained with as an Art of Allowing Facilitator and Shiloh Sophia who initiated me as a Red Thread Guide and brought consciously into my life the great work of Intentional Creativity. Without knowing it, I had been unintentionally working in this way dealing with the death of my daughter and I was so excited to discover that a whole movement devoted to growth and healing through art existed. I love art and I love working with women.

Explore Lizz's Website

Other Work

Sticky Back Plastic

My first real intentional creativity art experience came into being after the death of my daughter.  I called it Sticky Back Plastic. The pictures had names like Updating my software, Reprogramming, Reboot, Updating the system, Time for change, New Hardware in the Process, Surfing the Waves, Mind Surf, Entering Other Realms. This was way back in 1997 when I knew next to nothing about quantum mechanics and the like.

It was real transformational work on many levels leading me into art as therapy. It’s a hand-heart-head connection as demonstrated by Shiloh Sophia with Intentional Creativity. Doing this mindless sticking really helped me work through and understand my grief, and move through it. It did, on a certain level – transform my life. The material itself was going to go into a landfill so there was some kind of recycling and reinventing that took place.  It is not something lovely and organic but polluting plastic, this is Heyokha stuff! I was transforming it into something other than what it was originally intended for. Creating with love. Its a great material to use for all age groups and I have done many workshops at festivals, in prisons, with old people, school kids of all ages , children with learning disabilities –  it always goes down really well!

You can learn more about my Sticky Back Plastic here on my website.

Spoken Word Poetry

Message from Curator, Shiloh Sophia

“I am delighted that Musea is featuring this wonderful solo show of Lizz Daniel’s work. During the pandemic, I have chosen irony and humor specifically as my creative companions with my Muse at the Back Door series, soon to be released as a book.  When I saw Lizz’s hats begin to emerge I was laugh-out-loud delighted by her creation.

Lizz is a phenomenal heart, mind and artist whom I have greatly enjoyed having in our community over the years. Our community has always had creative, eccentric elders and grandmothers in our circles, and I immediately recognized Lizz as ‘one of us’. As soon as I saw the collection build I invited Lizz to be in a museum show before we had even had our first show! We welcome the inspiring work of Lizz. Truly a joy to experience!”

MUSEA Wheel with Museum Structure Image

Special thanks to: 

The Intentional Creativity Foundation for funding this exhibit!

Amber Gould, Curatorial Director – Exhibit Site Design, Artist Liaison

Maia Lemann, Co-Curator – Virtual Show Production and Design


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