Thursday, April 26, 2012

MAW Member Alissa Head's exhibit at Candle Lab

We in the Mothers Artist group know how brilliant, talented and incredibly witty our members are, but the rest of the world? Not so much. In celebration of Alissa Head's solo show at The Candle Lab, I proposed a little Q&A to better understand the complicated work of an amazing artist.

Q: What inspired the pieces shown at The Candle Lab?
A: I wanted to make a piece inspired by The World Tree from mythology. That's how "Origin" came about. If you research The World Tree, you'll find the symbol in different cultures: Norse, Mayan, Hindu... Carl Jung felt The World Tree (represented by the Yule or Christmas Tree) also stood for the individual or single soul of a person. Finally, I wanted to create a dysfunctional family tree. I was working in all these metaphorical layers when I created "Origin."

The Reality Check series is about process and emotions. I wanted to work intuitively without the idea of a preconceived structure. I experimented and just let the fabric and form create itself. These, for me, represent "gut reactions" -- when you know something on a subconscious level, but your mind hasn't caught up to it yet.

Q: Did you do anything different with your process than you have in other pieces shown?
A: I would say the Reality Check series is a different approach for me. In the past, I was very form driven -- meaning, I had a particular shape in mind, sometimes a sketch to match, and I would sculpt that shape as I stitched. But this time, I really loosened up and just played with stitches to see what would happen. I think "Origin" is a combination of both these approaches.

Q: Was there anything particularly challenging to make these pieces?
A: I worked much larger than I have previously. It was especially challenging. "Origin" was quite a feat for me. Knitting is time-consuming and tedious work, especially when you are paying very close attention to every stitch so you can be sure it is doing what you want it to do. So to finish a piece of that scale was liberating. It makes me want to work bigger!

Q: What would you do differently?
A: I would have started earlier!

Q: As a woman artist, is gender an issue in your work?
A: Conceptually, it isn't. My work is about the gender-neutral soul, and isn't about being a woman. But since I am a woman, And I'm sure that informs my work, I suppose other people might be able to find that in there.

The fact that it is knitting has nothing to do with gender. Knitting wasn't always "women's work."

Knitting as a medium allows me to generate material -- create and form one cell at a time. Also, it's an energy into matter thing. Although I'm working with wire, the energy and skill applied to the raw material creates a more complex material and, ultimately, form and meaning. So, for me, it's like magic: energy into matter. This is the process in my head, anyway.

This final question brings us to the crux of what makes Alissa tick.....

Q: What's your favorite guilty pleasure song?
A: Skrillex, Bangarang