Glass House #1, Archival Inkjet and Acrylic, 30"w x 22"h
Brian Sherwin: Alysia, what can you tell us about your educational background. Where did you study? Also, who were your mentors and how did they influence you?
Alysia Kaplan: I have a BFA in Commercial Illustrative Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology and an MFA in Print Media from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I would say my beginning photography Professor Gunther Cartwright was a big influence. He demanded a sense of rigor from his students, which created an intense environment, which seemed cruel at times, but prepared us for what was ahead. Peter Power and James Zanzi at SAIC both helped me find my voice and look at my pieces in a more physical light.
BS: Alysia, can you tell us about your early artistic influences and experiences. When did you decide to pursue art?
AK: I was actually planning on becoming a marine biologist. At the last minute I decided to pursue photography. At a young age I remember looking through my father’s camera viewfinder and feeling that the world was a different place from this vantage point. I really had little artistic experience prior to college and was overwhelmed in the beginning. I don’t think I started making work that was truly mine until after I graduated.
AK: One always learns (or hopes to) over time. I do not know if advanced is the proper word. The work follows a trajectory based on my immediate interests and what medium seems appropriate. I like to think my work has matured, but I still have images I loved from before I knew what I was doing. With time I feel we become more focused and learn how to speak about our work in broader terms.
BS: Alysia, is there anything else you would like to tell us about your background in regards to how your art have evolved?
AK: Having a child changed my work and therefore me. It sounds cliché, but you start to see how your past affects you and therefore your work and so on. In the end it is rather circular. For me it is all about home or the lack thereof.
BS: Can you go into detail about your artistic process? How do you start a piece? When do you know that a piece is finished?
AK: Most art making feels subliminal to me. Sometimes I will read an article or a book and want to pursue a theme based on that reading. More often than not I just start working with images that feel for lack of a better word right at the moment. I usually do not realize what a piece is really about until I finish it. Which is to say there is nowhere left to go. Then it is usually ridiculously obvious.
AK: I consider myself an observer of human nature. How we move within our immediate space and the broader impact that has on ourselves and our relationship to the environment is what interests me most at the moment.
BS: Alysia, tell us more about the philosophy behind your art. What motivates you to create?
AK: I do not have a grand philosophy. I make because I enjoy it. The process can be frustrating, but quite frankly I wouldn’t know how not to do it.
BS: Why did you choose to work in the medium(s) that you use?
AK: My need for immediate gratification draws me too photography, more specifically Polaroid film and cameras. I used to spend a great deal of time in the darkroom and enjoyed how an image could be manipulated. Print Media seemed like a natural progression as I take my images one step further away from where they originated. My photographs seemed a bit less precious at that point, which was a good thing. This allowed them to take on new forms and led to me making installations. I actually stopped taking photographs for a long time and just recently felt the need to shoot again.
BS: Alysia, what is your studio like? Can you go into detail about your studio routine? Do you work in silence-- listen to music. Can you describe the space you work in?
AK: If I am not taking or collecting photos I am usually working with them on the computer prior to making prints in the shop. I like to listen to music when I print-any and everything. If I have the space to myself early in the morning I enjoy the quiet. My studio is more of a staging and construction area and I like to use that time to think.
BS: With that said, what are you working on at this time?
AK: I am working on a series tentatively titled Affectionate Identity Desire, which is about our love affair with the objects in our homes, and how we can humanize these inanimate objects. I am giving them relationships of their own while playing with graphic form.
Glass House #4, Archival Inkjet and Acrylic, 30"w x 22"h
AK: I am in a group show coming up in November at Orleans St Gallery in St Charles, IL. Hopefully there will be more shows in the near future. Teaching has been a priority as of late. I also hope to have my website up soon.
BS: Alysia, the internet is changing how we discover and view art. In your opinion, how have sites like myartspace.com empowered artists?
AK: I enjoy the democratic nature of sites like myartspace. Not every one has the means to travel to see shows or the ability to get their work out to a larger audience. I feel this helps to level the playing field a bit and perhaps take away some of the intimidation people might feel about presenting their work.
BS: Finally, what are your goals as an artist? What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
AK: A sense of peace for myself hopefully a place for people to question and explore.