Artist-in Residence: Janet Levy presents Love Looks Like Fire

Janet Levy

Over the past year, Ace Hotel Artist in Residence, Janet Levy, created work across three cities — London, Palm Springs and Los Angeles — culminating this February in conjunction with the opening of Desert X at Ace Hotel & Swim Club, on Valentine’s Day at Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, a book launch, two site-specific sculptural installations, Ring of Fire and Pressure, and two dance performances choreographed by Melissa Schade.

Levy’s residency began at Ace Hotel London Shoreditch last July where she was given the time and space to experiment with new mediums creating watercolors and ink drawings studies for future sculptures. These studies are included in her book, Love Looks Like Fire, created in collaboration with designer Iván Martínez. The book is an artist catalogue which includes her studies, drawings and research images for her ongoing project, Love Looks Like Fire.

rock art
Ring of Fire, 2019, Quartize with Mica (Palm Springs gold) and volcanic rock.
Ace Hotel Palm Springs site specific sculptural installation in conjunction with the opening of Desert X.

Love Looks Like Fire was conceived long ago, but defined in its theme and concept while Levy was in the presence of volcanic materials in the Museo de Geologia, UNAM in Mexico City. There, the artist realized the theme of her work would be active volcanoes. Since then, Levy has been on an intensive journey to discover the dynamics of the inner works of an active volcano. She developed her sketch studies during her residency and she climbed the Stromboli and Etna volcanoes in Italy to “feel the energy the volcanoes generate.” She compares the earth and inner world of emotions with that of pressures and tensions that build up within the earth crust and ourselves.

Ring of Fire is a site-specific sculptural installation created for the Ace Hotel coinciding with the opening of Desert X – an international contemporary art exhibition that activated the California desert with site-specific installations. Levy utilizes the local materials quartzite called Palm Springs Gold and volcanic rock for her installation inspired by the sketch Ring of Fire contained in her book. Love Looks Like Fire, the Ring of Fire sketch provokes future sculptures  as well as site-specific stone installations. Along with her installation and book launch, a dance performance titled Volcano was choreographed by Melissa Schade and performed by dancers Danny Axley, Tess Hewlett, Kenzie McClure, Melissa Schade.

Ring of Fire promo
Love Looks Like Fire promo

“My focus is on the physical and conceptual exploration of stone. Using primarily alabaster, onyx, marble and local stone materials, I create abstract sculptural forms and installations to express the inherent desire to reveal what is concealed – underlying tensions, desires, dualities and sexual energy. Referencing a physical force in nature, I carve, bind and hang the stone, often combined with other materials like rope, chain and metal. I draw from inner tensions of opposing forces and emotional exchanges, exploring an enduring theme within my practice: to make the invisible visible.”

Levy uses the phenomena of a physical force of nature to compare emotions and sexuality that are otherwise difficult to reveal. As in her previous projects, Bite Down and the ongoing Butterfly Double, the work is born from a deep desire to render the invisible visible, to show the hidden emotions of tension, pressure and desire. By creating sculptures and installation pieces, she attempts to reveal what is internally concealed in solid form.

By creating an abstract Ring of Fire from volcanic rock and local material, she evokes the desire to explore geology in contrast to emotions. Active volcanoes and movement of the earth as physical forces of nature become a catalyst for dialogue of the energy of suppressed desires and sexuality. She is raising considerable questions, asking and inviting the questions of how and why? what next?”

Ring of Fire a site- specific sculptural installation created for the Ace Hotel Palm Springs in conjunction with the opening of Desert X and inspired by the sketch from her book Love Looks Like Fire. Using local materials, Quartzite with Mica (Palm Springs gold) and volcanic rock. Photography by Jamie Meier.

Loves Looks Like FireVolcano Dance: Choreography by Melissa Schade. Dancers: Danny Axley, Melissa Schade, Kenzie McClure, Tess Hewlet.

At Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, “Pressure,” a site-specific hanging sculpture was presented, along with a rooftop dance performance.

Pressure — Site-Specific Installation created for Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, using volcanic rock and hemp rope.

people dancing

Love Looks Like Fire Dance: Choreography by Melissa Schade Dancers: Danny Axle and Melissa Schade

To see more of her work, visit

person in yellow laying on checkered tile
Ace Hotel DTLA Photo by Maya Fuhr

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