Alyse's work literally made my head turn and physically drew me in when I first saw it. I had been in a rush to get somewhere, had wanted to just run through the hall to the elevator, but her work caught the corner of my eye and I was hooked. There is no way to avoid the gorgeous layers, textures and colors of her vibrant abstract works. They are a wonderful combination of painting and drawing, and tease you with a textile quality and feel. In essence, it was love at first sight. Since I've had the opportunity to get to meet her and know her work even better, I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do.
When getting to view your work in person, the layers and rawness of the canvas and materials is exposed, when combined with the clean bright lines and patterns in the paint creates quite the visual contrast. Can you explain and expand a little on that comparison within the work? What does it signify and mean to you?
My work is materials driven -- the visual contrast you mention is my response and connection to my tools, surfaces and paints. I am drawn to those qualities that you pointed to - rough adjacent to refined, variations in viscosity. Pushing the absorbency of raw canvas, staining with washes, layering transparent forms or patterns and then combining that with smooth clean opaque color… that is my handwriting.
You have a certain affinity and connection to line and gesture, be that through rubbings, drawing, painting or drip marks, is there a certain connection or personal story and context behind that passion?
I am focused on generating vocabulary that is specific to me. That process involves fully exploring the mark making, defining and redefining. It is unavoidable that personal narrative seeps in -- intended and unconsciously -- and so the content evoked by form, color and mark incorporates my everyday experience and to some extent, they are autobiographical. At least that is how it seems to me. There is minutia and there are significant events.
There is a dialog with nature in your work, literal rubbings of leaves and wood make their way into your pieces. Can you elaborate on this connection and inspiration from nature?
In 2001 I consciously decided to paint on raw pine panels and use the grain of the wood as a point of departure, as if it were a drawing. Later, moving on to paper, I began making rubbings of the wood grain pattern from my deck on yupo, a synthetic Japanese paper made of polypropylene. It is intriguing to me that the natural image of wood grain comes from pressure treated decking - infused with chemicals meant to defy nature - and the paper is synthetic but is actually a green, archival material. That paradox hints at my concern for the environment and my anxiety over the pervasive toxicity of our surroundings - including my home.
Recently I began to incorporate rubbings of enormous sycamore leaves from my yard and the texture of the chainsawed tree stump outside my studio door. Using these textures from my home and yard contributes to the autobiographical aspect of my work. I want the things I see and live with to be part of the imagery and sensation of the paintings -- perhaps to document my daily experience but also to chronicle the growth, decomposition and natural processes that continue around me.
From the work that I am familiar with, most of your work has been fairly large, do you feel that the gestural aspect of your work needs that space? Do you or have you ever worked on smaller work? On the flip side, I can see your work getting huge, theater set huge, what's the largest piece you've ever done? If you could do an installation anywhere, regardless of size, is there a location that you would love your work to live?
Working on a large scale is natural for me but from 2000 until 2007 I worked only on a miniature scale - 6 x 5 inches. In 2008 I moved to 20 and 30 inch surfaces and then up to 60 inches. Now I bounce back and forth between expansive and small paintings. I think the largest piece I have done is a triptych that is 5 x 12 feet.
I would love to create a theater set - I have always loved David Hockney’s opera sets. I don’t have a specific dream location in mind but a sprawling space with high ceilings and natural or unusual light sounds good to me.
What do you do when you feel stuck or uninspired or a work is just not working out the way that you want it to? Do you have any tips or tricks that you'd like to share? A good story of found inspiration or trial and error?
I try very hard to work on things only when I have an instinct about how to proceed. If I am feeling uninspired, I sit and look, maybe do prep work, read, follow up on emails, pay bills and take care of other studio related issues. Allowing time and waiting it out works for me- I am fairly patient (in some ways) and sometimes I lose access to a painting for weeks or months. I work on many surfaces simultaneously so as other paintings progress, often they inform the one that was left behind and I can come back to it.
In terms of paintings working out the way I want them to, well, when I am painting I don’t have an expectation of what it will look like but I am very motivated to see what will happen when I complete a layer of pattern or color. That obsessive curiosity drives me but sometimes I have to continue through several layers before things gel. I am OK with things looking “bad” or out of sync while the work is in process -- it’s freeing and prevents me from being precious or hesitant.
Do you have any rituals when it comes to making your work? What's the first thing you do when you get to your studio? What's the last?
The first thing I do when I get into the studio is let my dog out the back door and sit down with my coffee to look around. The last thing I do is take pictures of what I did that day.
Do you have any favorite female artists?
Oh- so many... Doris Salcedo, Eva Hesse, and Kathy Butterly
Do you have any upcoming or current events or exhibitions that you'd like to share?
I am very excited to be included in Bigger, Bolder, Better opening on June 2, along with 15 other incredible women, curated by Janie Crimmins, Christina Massey and Etty Yaniv.
In September I am honored to show my work at the Newcomb Museum of Tulane in UNFAMILIAR AGAIN: Contemporary Women Abstractionists, along with Rachel Beach, Morgan Blair, Amy Ellingson, Brittany Nelson, Barbara Takenaga, and Anne Vieux.
Currently my work is on view in Chelsea at Rick Wester Fine Art, in Tremolo, a group show of ten artists who address vibration, movement and repetition in their work, curated by Carolanna Parlato.