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The Canvas - Alicia Ross: by Georgia Griffin

02/05/2011 10h42 ● By Brian O

This month I get to say something unique for these pages – our featured artist, Alicia Ross, is a bold provocateur who has twice been featured in New York Magazine’s “Critic’s Pick”!

Alicia Ross’ recent solo show Hot Mess at Brooklyn’s Black & White Gallery last fall was named New York Magazine’s “Critic’s Pick”, her second show in two years to be picked. Hot Mess was also listed in the Huffington Post’s “Nine Best Things to do in NYC This Weekend”. New York shows, especially solo shows, are hard enough to come by, what with their local artists and often all across the country vying for NYC gallerists’ attention, but that kind of press is pure gold. You can’t buy it; it is earned.

Alicia’s medium for that show happens to be cross-stitch embroidery, which is very unusual in itself for gallery level artwork, as is her subject matter – creating a layered thought provoking body of work. In my view it’s a natural progression from her previous mixed media textile works, and photography.

“The idea of using embroidery began in graduate school when I looked for a way to output my photographic work in a way that specifically spoke to traditional female roles. Seeing as though needlework was traditionally “women's work” it lent itself well to the themes I was interested in exploring: the tension between woman as sex object and woman as nurturer. The work isn’t necessarily taking sides between the taboo or the ladylike but materializing the balance for the viewer to decipher.”

“Hot Mess was largely about America's fascination with celebrity and how often times the line between celebrated public figures and condemned ones is so blurred. I find it interesting how the media portrays these various women – depicting them as either monsters, victims or harlots.”

“Much like a dieter having a bowl of ice cream, I find myself caught up in the “news” stories, but aware that around the corner are feelings of remorse. I often think (about) what this celebrity obsession says about us as society. Not that rock-star/celebrity obsession is anything new, here or anywhere, but with the dawn of the Internet and entertainment “news” shows it feels as though it's completely left the realm of reality. America doesn't need kings or queens to obsess over when it has Lindsays and Britneys!”

The images chosen for publication in the magazine are merely to whet your appetite. I encourage you to explore Alicia’s website,, in depth, to get the full impact of her amazing series – and the rest of her work.

“The images I use for my embroidery work are appropriated from a variety of online sources: pornographic websites, fashion websites, search engines and news sources. By blurring the line between where these images were obtained, the viewer is invited to distinguish between them without their original visual context. Every piece is sketched out by hand, digitally manipulated and then sewn multiple times in various palettes. I generally labor over my choice of poses and colors before I arrive at a final decision.”

As fascinated as I am with Alicia’s past media choices of embroidery, fiber, photography and performance, I had to ask if there were any sort of media she hadn’t used that might turn up in her future works.

“I have several sculpture pieces, which I have designed but are not yet fabricated – mostly due to their large scale and expense. But I think it's always a good thing as an artist to have things on the back burner. So when the time is right they'll get made.”

“Honestly, I'm never 100% sure where my work is going or what themes will catch my attention long enough to make work about them. Some days, I think I'll never have another creative thought again – and other days I'm panicking because I can't make work as fast as I can conjure up pieces in my head.”

Naturally, with the caliber of Alicia’s work and the recognition it has garnered, I was curious why we were lucky enough to have her right here in the Coastal Bend, rather than Los Angeles or New York.

“After leaving a full-time public relations position in my home town of Cleveland, Ohio, I came down to the Texas coast for three reasons – to be closer to family, to focus on making work for my most recent solo exhibition in Brooklyn, New York, and to escape the Ohio winters! I was pleased to be offered an adjunct teaching position at Texas A&M-CC for the spring semester.”

I've been very pleased and impressed by the local efforts to bring contemporary art to the Coastal Bend by organizations such as K-Space Contemporary and the Rockport Center for the Arts. While contemporary art might not be the highest selling commodity in this neck of the woods, it's critical that people are exposed to different ways of thinking and seeing in order to evolve as a society – contemporary art is often the catalyst.”

“I don't have any exhibitions on the horizon in the area, but my work will be on display at this year's Pulse New York, March 3-6 – represented by the Black and White Gallery, Brooklyn, New York.”

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