Beili Liu/Rino Pizzi
The Mona Lisa Project is a visual art collaborative project which includes elements of historical reflection and cultural commentary on art and the historical imagery of gender perception. It is based on an exchange between photographer Rino Pizzi and 16 women artists who specialize in different media and disciplines: Connie Arismendi, Ellen Berman, Valerie Chaussonnet, Judy Jensen, Faith Gay, Germaine Keller, Emily Little, Beili Liu, Beverly Penn, Margo Sawyer, Julie Speed, Jana Swec, Liz Ward, Sally Weber, and Sydney Yeager​.
The project involved the development of a series of works inspired by the image and cultural relevance of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa portrait, focusing primarily on the subject’s celebrated smile. The artists/sitters decided the setting and context of the portrait—clothing, environment, and more. The main objective of the project was that of providing a reflection on a wide range of topics in contemporary art production and representation, inviting women artists to embody an established icon about femininity, which is first produced as a portrait by a male photographer, and then re-appropriated through each artist’s own aesthetic vision and experience.
The Mona Lisa Project was shown at the Austin Museum of Art (now The Contemporary, Austin) in Austin from June through September 2011, at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (Grand Rapids, Michigan) from September through December 2011, and was on display at Austin City Hall in Austin, Texas from January through December 2012.
A full catalog, including artist statements and essays by Dana Friis-Hansen, Director of the Grand Rapids Museum of Art, Michigan, and Prof. Janis Bergman-Carton, Chair of the Art History department at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, can be partially pre-viewed and purchased at

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