Coinciding with World Pride and designed by Lisa Marie Thalhammer, an award-winning visual artist and member of the LGBTQ community, who is best known for her iconic 13-color rainbow “LOVE” mural located on Blagden Alley in Washington, D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood, the bottle is a limited edition specifically for the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall. For the Spirit of Stonewall bottle, Thalhammer used a mural theme and incorporated emblematic LGBTQ imagery, including five hands and three protest signs at the corner of Gay and Christopher Streets outside of the Stonewall Inn, a high heel to represent the transgender activists who initiated the 1969 uprising. Also in the design is a sign spelling out “LIBERATION” as a reference to the Gay Liberation Front that includes three gender symbols, as well as a peace sign and protest fist holding a rainbow energy ribbon that swirls between fingers and brings the community together.

Lisa Marie creates portraits and color networks that uplift and empower humanity. As a feminist activist and member of the LGBTQ+ community, her artworks frequently communicate messages of strength and hope. She has received numerous grants from the D.C. Commission on the Art and Humanities. Lisa Marie uses her artworks as part of political actions to communicate positive messages of equality, persistence, empowerment and love. 

We recently had the privilege of speaking with Lisa Marie and she gave us a little insight into her world.

Chris Astrala: Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to speak with us. For those who are not familiar with you and your work, would you give our readers a little insight to Lisa Marie?

Lisa Marie Thalhammer: My artwork is all about empowerment and energy. I want people to walk away from my artworks and public murals feeling strong, inspired and joyous. I believe that color can help to heal and uplift us. I use shape, language and figures in my art to address socio-political issues. I am a creative person who is passionate about equal rights and promoting love and kindness through the creation of art.

CA: Who were or are your biggest influences?

LMT: My mother and grandmother are my earliest creative influences, always encouraging my artistic pursuits. In high school, my amazing art teacher taught me the history of women artists such as the fierce 17th Century Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi and Mexican portrait artist Frida Kahlo. Other Feminists, such as artists Judy Chicago and Barbara Kruger, and public figures, such as Ellen DeGeneres, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis and Michelle Obama, all inspire and influence me. I thank artists such as Shepard Fairy, Robbie Conal, Keith Haring, and Basquiat for inspiring me to take my art to streets. Moreover, performers with a message such as Janelle Monáe, Lady Gaga and RuPaul, in addition to other LOVE artists such as Corita Kent and Robert Indiana, also have an influence on my artwork and me. 

CA: I read that you are a very spiritual person is that aspect of your life reflected in your art?

LMT: Yes, I believe that everything is interconnected with spirit, including my artwork and everyone whom experiences it. The colors in my energy networks and LOVE artworks communicate this to the viewer. I believe that visual language can help transcend the boundaries that divide, moving towards a humanity that respects the life, freedom and happiness of all sentient beings.

CA: What role does Yoga play in your art?

LMT: Yoga taught me about subtle energy and how awareness and gentle energetic shifts can raise consciousness. When I paint a mural, I am transforming an otherwise overlooked or discarded space. Using color and shape, I shift the energetic vibrations of a location, creating a spiritual vortex that can enhance health and balance emotions.  Additionally, yoga teaches us about the Chakra energy centers of the body and how they are represented through seven primary and secondary colors. My rainbow color spectrum takes this further by overlapping these colors, creating tertiary colors to emphasize the interconnectivity of all things.

CA: The current volatile political climate is a major headline these days, do you feel the need to be involved and if so in what way?

LMT: I have taken my LOVE protest signs to many marches, including the Women’s March, The March for our Lives, the Native Nations March the Climate March and Capital Pride Parades. LOVE and respect for others is the underlining core value that is missing from mainstream political debate.  This is why, through my work with Stoli, I have chosen to support the National LGBTQ Task Force. Their “Be You” and “Queering the Census” campaigns encourage us to be out about all of who we are all the time, respecting the varieties of our identities with a goal to end all kinds of discrimination.

CA: Companies like Stoli®are bringing the LGBTQ community to mainstream national and international attention. How important is it to you and our community for them to do this?

LMT: It is very important because we need to be seen and heard by the world in order to break the stigmas that create discrimination and violence against our communities. The more authentic representation LGBTQ humans have in media, in government or on a Stoli Vodka bottle the better.

CA: Can you tell us the process of being selected to design the label for the bottle commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall?

LMT: All my years hanging out at lesbian bars paid off when Jo McDaniels, bartender and Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Champion, suggested my artwork for the bottle label. Then, when Stoli National LGTBQ Ambassador Patrik Gallineaux told me that Eric Marcus, historian behind the Making Gay History podcast, was writing the text for the back of the bottle, I knew that this was a project and a company that I wanted to create artwork for.

CA: What was your muse for the design?

LMT: The many stories of courageous LGBTQ activists over the past 50 years are my muse. I want people to see themselves in one or more of the hands illustrated and feel inspired to join the movement for LOVE Liberation and Pride.

CA: What’s next for you?

LMT: My dream for the 2020 US election cycle is to embark on a national campaign for LOVE – painting murals and posting LOVE signs across the United States. If you would like to help me please contact me – I need wall locations, funds and sponsors to make it all happen. If you are interested in joining the campaign or learning more about my artwork and murals please visit my website and support with the purchase of a “Stonewall LOVE” print, or sign up for my email list, message me and stay in touch on Instagram @lisamariestudio. 

CA: Finally is there anything you would like to pass on to readers that we did not hit on? LMT: The world needs more LOVE all around – when haters hate, try to find empathy for them and for whatever happen to them to create such negativity. Know that we all have the capacity to change. Believe in your journey and in humanities ability to rise up in peace and creativity. Lift each other up with our words and actions and be the change we want to see in the world – Happy Pride, be safe and know that you are loved!