Lia Strell is an artist, film maker and activist. She also feels a deep connection to gardens; the rich soil, leafy profusion, and plentiful seeds.
“When seeds sprout, its sparks inspiration, creates feelings.
The creative process gets us out of our conundrums.
Many answers are in the Garden, nature tended by people.”
As a child she dreamed of being an artist and a biologist. Her life’s work has brought together the environmental sciences and the creative process.
She began painting at six years old. She studied ceramics and glass as a university student. She spent summers in Italy sculpting in marble.
Metals became her medium: aluminum, copper, bronze, steel, silver and gold. Gardens, her inspiration.
Three of Lia’s sculptures have found a home at Alta Vista Botanical Gardens.
Creative Bloom is located in the tropical garden near the waterfall. The tall sculpture symbolizes the emergence of the feminine along with the masculine.
Bronze petals curve upward, lotus like, surrounding curled male stamen and a female pistil of rose quartz. Its simple, elegant beauty echoes the natural flowers growing nearby: glossy birds of paradise and ginger clusters.
In 2007, Creative Bloom was selected by the San Diego Ports Public Art Department as part of the Urban Tree Exhibitions and was displayed along Harbor drive. It arrived in the Garden in 2009.
Sacred Ginko stands proudly at the top of the Medicinal Herb Garden. Constructed of metal and glass, Lia and her fellow artist Amber Irwin captured the delicate beauty of this most ancient of trees. Its graceful fan-shaped leaves dip and curl to catch the sunlight and seem to flow in a breeze.
Ginkgo trees symbolize vitality and endurance and a reminder that memory is a sacred responsibility. Lia created the sculpture as a tribute to her mother who recently passed away from complications of dementia.
Sacred Ginkgo was a Vista Kite Sculpture in 2014 and displayed downtown. It came to the Garden in 2015.
Golden Torsion graces the center of the Ceremonial Garden pond. Curved spirals coil over a flame-like center. A fountain splashes up from the pond at the sculpture’s base, bringing life and movement.
Inspired by the theory of Torsion Waves, Lia captures a spirit of imagination and energy.
The sculpture has been photographed many times. It rises up against backdrops of sky, flora and water, mountains, coastline and stunning sunsets.
It is an iconic symbol of the Gardens.
Lia has been part of the Alta Vista Botanical Garden community for many years. In addition to sharing her art, she has been part of creative healing events that include yoga, healthy foods and dance theatre.
She has an abiding respect for the environment. In 2018 she trained with Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader. She works with community leaders to bring awareness and understanding to the many issues of climate change.
Gardens remain central in Lia’s life. Her new artistic work centers around seed pods. She was entrusted with the gift of a sacred callaloo seed, a fourth-generation land seed, which she nurtures. And, utilizing “the materials of our grandmothers” she creates walking sticks embedded with beautiful natural stones.
Lia’s creative abundance is a welcome addition to the Garden.