OFF THE COST



ALEXIS DAY

Published on February 20, 2021

Alexis Day is a Portland based, mixed media artist, originally from the coastal town of Bandon, Oregon. Utilizing her background in psychology, she investigates the themes of perception and memory, and how these processes relate to both individual and cultural identity. Working with a variety of mediums including paint, photographs, fabric, thread, and drawing media, Day creates artworks that resist categorization, and communicate through both their rendered subject matter, as well as the materials and processes used to create them.

Day is represented by Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, Oregon. She earned an MFA in Visual Studies from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2019, a Bachelor of Science in Art Practices from Portland State University in 2017, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Oregon in 2010. In 2021 she looks forward to a solo exhibition at the Forsberg Art Gallery in Longview Washington, a month long artist residency at the Studios of Key West, in Key West, Florida, and a solo exhibition, Faceted: Time and Expectations, at Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, Oregon. In 2020 she attended an artist residency at The Studios at Mass MoCA, in North Adams, Massachusetts, participated in the Forefront Symposium at Cynthia Reeves Gallery, in North Adams Massachusetts, and exhibited a solo show, Cascades: Synapse and Satin, at Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, Oregon. Other shows include the California Exhibition, at the TAG gallery in Los Angeles, California, Putting it Together 2, at the Foundry in St. Charles, Missouri, Figuratively Speaking at Liberty Arts Gallery in Bend, Oregon, and Dismantled, a solo exhibition at the Lodge Gallery in Portland, Oregon.



“AD_1.jpg”
“AD_5.jpg”


I create mixed-media artworks that investigate human experience, and the nuance of memory and the mind. I’m influenced by my background in psychology and anthropology, and reference these fields of study, while creating my work. I’m interested in how our minds construct memories, emotions and identities, and how these mental mechanisms in turn, influence, and are influenced by, the cultures they exist in. With these ideas in mind, I construct artworks that combine complex materiality with narrative imagery. I take photographs of scenes that trigger me to think about memory, time, and the influence that culture has on female experience. I digitally edit and print these images onto fabric, and then have a second experience with them, as I reinterpret their compositions in my studio. I complicate and deconstruct the photograph’s initial content, by cutting, sewing, and layering materials together. I intuitively make marks with paint, thread, and drawing media, and intentionally embed collaged elements into each piece. These mixed media artworks are bricolages, constructed from many different types of materials, often repurposed.

My conceptual interests are reflected in how I create my artworks in several ways. First, my bricolage process mirrors how the mind creates memories, perceptions, and identities. Each of these are formed by merging many different experiences together. Cultural practices are also slowly created and changed in this incremental way. My artworks are similarly collaborations, formed by merging many distinct materials and techniques together. These pieces are also perceptually challenging. Identifying what medium, created which mark, is hard to decipher. This reflects how the mind functions, fusing multiple experiences together indistinctly. Additionally, by layering materials and modes of making, I leave evidence of time and process, and embed a history into each piece. This relationship with time is increased by using repurposed materials, as they bring their own history, and previous connotations with them. Finally, I also intentionally select the imagery and materials that I use. I choose some images and patterns to direct perceptions towards female experience, and others to reference larger concepts and cultural practices.

My artworks defy easy categorization, existing somewhere between tapestry, painting, photography, and collage. They are my investigations into the human mind and experience. Through process, I strive to illustrate the fragmented structure that is the foundation of both our minds and cultures. Through imagery, I create a visual entry point, and supply potential narratives to reference my conceptual interests. These two aspects are synthesized together, through a deteriorating and feminine aesthetic, that speaks to time, memories, and a female perspective.


“AD_4.jpg”

Jen Bacon: Hi Alexis, thanks so much for taking the time to work with us on this interview. Let’s just start with the go-to questions on how you’ve found yourself in your current medium, what choices led you to where you are now with your materials, techniques, scale, etc.?

Alexis Day: Hi Jen, thank you for inviting me to be an OTC Feature! In my art practice, I create mixed media artworks that investigate memory, perception, and space. I take photographs from my day to day life, print them onto fabric, and then question and complicate this imagery by adding cuts, paint, collage, and sewing. These artworks depict scenes, and are also very tactile, causing them to communicate both through composition and materiality. —- I’ve evolved this process slowly over the past ten years. I began as an amateur photographer, and then slowly developed my creative “toolbox.” I learned more about my camera and digital manipulation, learned to sketch, learned to sew, fell in love with painting, and finally fused all of these interests together into my current way of making. I followed my interests and expanded my practice with each new skill.


JB: What life experiences have influenced your professional art practice? Where do you or have you found the most inspiration[s]?

AD: I’m inspired by a combination of research and life experience. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and am curious about perception, human behavior, and the mind. Additionally, I’m an avid audiobook listener, and while working constantly listen to a variety of fiction novels, both classic and new.

I am interested in how cultural norms shift and change over time, and how the author’s biases and beliefs often reveal themselves. This information is mixed with my own lived experiences and the experiences of friends and family, such as navigating youth, surviving hardships, family, marriage, aging, sisterhood, and all the accompanying emotions.

These ideas shift around in my mind, and when I see imagery that triggers the same emotions or reminds me of a passage of text or memory, I photograph it. These photographs and the emotions and thoughts I have while taking them are the starting points for each artwork.




“AD_8.jpg”

“AD_8.jpg”




JB: I’m interested in how your process starts with a photograph. Curiously, what is it, to you, about the photograph that captures those moments that allow you then to reflect with them to begin your tapestry works?

AD: I think about photography in a few ways. It's a medium based in processing light; capturing how it is cast and reflected in a particular moment, in a particular place in time. I see this as both connected to memory and a kind of verification, a documentation, that this event, this scene, these people existed…. but just like memories are fallible and prone to shift with new information, photographs are also unreliable. Light can be manipulated, objects staged, subjects posed, photoshop edits, etc. In this way, photography mirrors memory and is intrinsically slippery. I’m drawn to this uncertainty and embrace it at multiple stages of my art-making, from intentionally distorting a scene with a wide-angle lens to blurring the distinctions between photography and other media. Additionally, photography is a convenient, accurate, and immediate tool to capture movement and composition. This combination makes it a useful medium to start my tapestries with.


JB: When do you feel your interests in psychology and your expansion in artistic techniques come together at their best?

AD: I think that my interest in psychology is most successfully intertwined into my artworks, through the way I manipulate materials and build up each artwork’s surface. I’m interested in how our minds work, particularly how they form our memories, perceptions, identities, and even emotions. These are all constructed by combining together many different experiences, varying in degrees of accuracy and importance. The way I craft my artworks is similar to this. I create bricolages, which are similar to collage but consist of many different types of media, often inexpensive or repurposed. To create each piece, I’ll combine painting, photography, collage, and sewing together. These different mediums each have their own distinct histories and connotations, that shift and change when combined together. Working in this way is very satisfying to me as it parallels the ideas I’m thinking about and trying to communicate.


JB: What does your studio practice look like?

AD: My daily practice varies. When in the studio, I’ll alternate between works at different stages of finish, such as priming a new piece, painting a second, and stitching a third while the other two dry. Other days I collect images by actively going on photo excursions, while others are spent researching and applying to shows and grants. This flexibility helps me stay engaged as I can choose between different processes to work on depending on my state of mind.




“AD_9.jpg”
“AD_6.jpg”
“AD_7.jpg”




JB: I can’t help but think of the word collect and how it manifests throughout your process. Do you consider yourself a collector? If so, where do you see the most of these acts, and how does it help you in the studio?

AD: I definitely am naturally inclined to collect. I like the search and thrill of the find and had many collections growing up. A favorite was my bell collection which I still have somewhere. As I’ve gotten older though, I try not to accumulate “stuff” in the same way and have potentially shifted this impulse into my art-making. Thinking of both the concept of bricolage as well as the environment, I strive to use as many repurposed fabrics as I can. I use my own old clothing and textiles, materials given to me by family and friends, and I selectively purchase other media from second-hand stores like Scrap, and the Goodwill bins. These different items I sort and store in my studio based on color. Unlike paint, I can’t mix and adjust fabric tone, so having a wide variety in my studio is helpful for my creative process. Need something blue and shiny? Pull out the blue bin! Something to accent the barn? Out comes the red. There is satisfaction puzzle-piecing the artworks together and honest joy when I find a place for certain articles that have been in my studio for a while. A favorite dress I’d held onto from my teens comes to mind.

In a way, I also collect processes. As I discussed before my artworks have progressively become more complex as I’ve added new modes of making to my creative toolbox. I plan to keep collecting these! Currently experimenting with laser cutters and embroidery.




“AD_13.jpg”
“AD_3.jpg”
“AD_3.jpg”
“AD_3.jpg”





JB: Who are your favorite artists right? Who do you think we should be looking at/following? How have they, if at all, impacted your work and your own ideas?

AD: I really love the work of the artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby. I was first drawn to her striking paintings. She blends realistically rendered figures, abstracted marks, and even collaged items together seamlessly. They are striking, emotive, and full of layers that are challenging to decipher. As I listened to videos of her speaking about her practice, I became even more engaged. She is attempting to create liminal spaces, fusing imagery from different locations, and different periods of time together. This technique resonated with me. I was already thinking about expressing memory and perception through materiality, but hearing about her subtle juxtapositions influenced how I layer my own imagery.


JB: What is the best advice you could/would give to an art student. Or, if you could go back to the start of your graduate experience at PNCA, what would you tell yourself?

AD: I got so much out of my graduate education at PNCA. I entered with separate skills, loose ideas, and an open mind, and through a lengthy and sometimes painful process, sorted and formed these into my current art practice. An alumni gave me some great advice before I entered the program. He said, “It is what you make it.” It’s possible to slide by not giving your all and earn a diploma, but if you push yourself, this experience can help set you on a trajectory. My advice to my earlier self would be to trust the process. Also, I would encourage people starting a program to try and set aside hard-set beliefs on what their practice should look like or be about. You can always return to your old practice, but while at school, I encourage you to step outside your creative comfort zone.

JB: Almost two years out from grad school, what advice would you give yourself as you continue to evolve your career?

AD: Just keep making. If you stop making, there is nothing to show in studio visits, nothing to apply to shows with, and no advancement in style or ability. I’m advising myself to just keep creating!

JB: Finally, what is next for you!? What projects are you working on and where can our readers see you and your next exhibition?

AD: I have been creating a body of work over the last year. I call it Faceted: Time and Expectations. It is an interesting series as I began most pieces in early 2020 before Covid, and then slowly developed all of them as the year progressed. My initial perspectives and intentions shifted as the year unfolded and the artworks took on more weight in the process. They all began relating to my continuing interests in time, place, the mind, and female experience, but have since taken on traces of additional attributes including isolation and division. The show opens on-site at Elizabeth Leach Gallery on February 4th and a digital viewing room will launch on the 9th!

Additionally, later this February I am excited to say that I am off to a residency at the Studios of Key West. I will be there for four weeks and am excited to be in such a historic and drastically different environment. I plan on appreciating the sunshine and anticipate feeling very inspired!

Thank you for the opportunity to be an OTC feature, and thank you to everyone who took the time to read this interview. It has been great sharing with you today.



“AD_12.jpg”
“AD_12.jpg”
“AD_4.jpg”



IMAGE LIST

1. Derivation [2020]
Fabric, photograph, acrylic paint, oil paint, drawing media, mylar, thread, glue, beads, sequins, mesh, wire, earring, other collaged materials
72 X 49.5 Inches


2. Derivation [Detail]


3. Borderline [2020]
Fabric, photograph, acrylic paint, oil paint, drawing media, mylar, thread, glue, sequins, beads, sequins, ribbon, button
48 X 32 Inches


4. Antecedent [2020]
Fabric, photograph, acrylic paint, oil paint, drawing media, mylar, thread, glue, beads, sequins, mesh, mirror, earrings, other collaged materials
72 X 49.5 Inches


5. Antecedent [Detail]


6. Echo [2019]
Fabric, photograph, acrylic paint, oil paint, drawing media, mylar, thread, glue, ribbon, pearl, beads
50 X 46 Inches


7. Echo [Detail]


8. Echo [Detail]


9. Converge [2019]
Fabric, photograph, acrylic paint, oil paint, drawing media, mylar, thread, glue, ribbon, canvas, beads
54 X 42 Inches


10. Converge [Detail]


11. Instill [2019]
Fabric, photograph, acrylic paint, oil paint, drawing media, mylar, thread, glue, ribbon, canvas, beads
63 X 44 Inches


12. Instill [Detail]


13. Retrospect [2020]
Fabric, photograph, acrylic paint, oil paint, drawing media, mylar, thread, glue, sequins, beads
39 X 30 Inches


14. Endeavor [2020]
Fabric, photograph, acrylic paint, oil paint, drawing media, mylar, thread, glue, sequins, beads
60 X 38 Inches


15. Introspect [2020]
Fabric, photograph, acrylic paint, oil paint, drawing media, mylar, thread, glue, beads, face mask, earring
32 X 25 Inches




Contact Alexis Day

instagram

website




All featured Photographs belong to respective artists. Questions? e-mail us




© 2021 copyright. all rights reserved.