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Interview with Alyson:
I love to build as much as I love to paint. To imagine a thing that has never existed before, to bring that idea from a sketch to a real three-dimensional object is incredibly satisfying. The process often involves some aspect of problem solving, as I need to balance the visual effect with making something that will not fall apart or be terribly delicate. I have made a number of pieces that have a functional aspect: buttons, switches or levers and wheels that allow the piece to move or shift in some way. When designing such a piece, I find it helpful to look at existing objects which function in a similar manor to what I have in mind in order to come to a solution. I was working on a piece where I wanted a needle to move back and forth. After problems with a few homemade electromagnets, I went in search of something pre-existing. I found exactly the part I needed in my neighborhood Chinese restaurant, one of those plastic, waving kitties they have for good luck. I was able to remove that part, by dissecting the poor kitty, and solve my problem. I think the three dimensional aspect brings a playfulness to my work, even if the subject matter is more serious. It makes the work feel very approachable and with the moving pieces, they become interactive.
Oil and Wood: my stylistic choice is very conscious. My conceptual themes are not time or place specific, so I like to mix an old style or image with something very modern. I was facing a particular problem in creating the “head pieces”. I had previously been using friends as my models. These paintings read for many as portraits of and about the specific person I had painted. I had intended however, that the individual I painted be symbolic of a larger group of people or even mankind in general. This is why I used clippings from advertisements from the 40’s, heads painted by famous Renaissance painters and illustrations from old medical texts as my models. In this way, the person depicted is no longer “Marc” but simply; “man”. The “head pieces” are about conversations we have with ourselves inside our own minds. They are first conversations I have had in my mind but also thoughts that I suspect I am not alone in. The later pieces use a lot of animals for two reasons, first I love painting repetitive patterns like scales and feathers and also, I had switched my focus a bit. I wanted to talk about larger human issues and in some cases, politics. Though I was thinking of a particular politician or well-known person when I set out to make a piece I wanted it to represent all people who were like-minded, regardless of place or time.
My personal ideal of fine art? In terms of what I gravitate towards, is work that succeeds on a few levels conceptually, visually, materially and individually. I say conceptually because for me there has to be an intent behind a piece. It doesn’t have to be deep or original but it has to be present. This is a personal thing, but I like things that are beautiful. Understanding that, of course, my idea of beauty may encompass things that many may not see as beautiful at all. In terms of material, I love raw materials, wood and paint and metal are beautiful in and of themselves. I really appreciate a well-made piece. Lastly things that are totally original or very unusual are always float my boat.Finding my particular place in the contemporary art scene has always been difficult for me. The real answer is I don’t know where I fit in. This bothered me for a long time. I actually think of myself as a conceptual artist but visually that label seems to make the least sense at all. The style of the painted aspect of my work is very traditional, very realistic and somewhat impressionistic in terms of brush strokes and impasto but the images depicted are not tradional. I appreciate the lowbrow scene for its emphasis on figurative work and craftsmanship but don’t think my work fits in there. I once asked an art critic I respect what he would call me and he used the term ” New American Surrealist”. I was happy to have a label accurate or not. Since then I have found a number of artists I would be hard pressed to place within the contemporary art scene and I am happy to fit in with those who don’t fit in.