My Creative Friend: Alice

{ Alice }

My creative friend, Alice, is a fellow Artist Mentor at New Urban Arts, an open after-school art studio where we spend afternoons creating with high school students. I am so lucky that we are in the studio at the same time - I really hope that her creative mode of thought and energy rub off on me a bit this year. Alice works across many mediums, is a really thoughtful educator, and brings warmth and calmness to any room that she walks into. She and I have had a few talks about our creative work, and I am so excited to ask her to share some of her thoughts here.

{ Dreamtigers, handmade book - gouache paint and photocopy transfer }

Tell us about yourself, Alice.
My creative voice seems to be pouring out of me in every which way. I was lucky to have a family that was really into art, so we would make things together, both stuff for our house, like shell sculptures, and more personal work like paintings and photographs... and then, that impulse never really went away. Right now my creative practice looks like some mix of teaching with creativity, writing short essays, baking and making small books, as well as DIY style little presents for friends and making my apartment into a nest space. In the past it has looked like poetry, hostessing/party-giving, getting a degree in textiles (that was pretty crazy) and photography, both digital and darkroom.

How do you make time for your creative practice?
Sigh... this is so hard for me. One of the things I have been motivated to do and had work pretty well was to require myself to do half-an-hour of making every day no matter what. Sometimes creativity and extended creative projects come very naturally to me, and I have a hard time walking away at all. Right now though, I'm having a bit of artist's block, so I'm working on strategies to fix this. It has worked really well for me to make presents for people as a means of motivation, whether this culminates in a poem or a stuffed animal. Working in collaboration is another great motivator; if your project is with someone else, or even just happening in the same room, suddenly the energy can gather into something unexpectedly enticing and expansive!

{ Offering, baked goods - bananas and candied ginger with written well-wishes for the consumer }

How would you describe your creative process?
I identify primarily as a teacher, and a collage-artist. So, I generally have an idea I want to work with as a starting point, and a lot of times it is based in my work as an amateur historian. From there, I gather primary sources, and other materials that spark my interest as both inspiration and collage items. I take a lot of notes, and plan some forms for the project to take. Then I start building, or weaving, or writing. I try to keep my work and practice loose enough that I can always alter a form or introduce new ideas to a piece as they (inevitably) come along.

{ Brother Fabric - Jacquard woven polyester }

Do you call yourself an artist? Crafter? Artisan? What's the right word and why?
I proudly identify with the term crafter and practicing a craft, especially as a woman who works with fiber and writing. I love holding the word close to my heart and recognizing the many many years of tradition, work and knowledge that went into the creative disciplines I now participate in- not that my technique is perfect or meticulous- I'm sloppier, frequently, than I wish I were. I think of myself as an artist too, but I prefer crafter/artisan because I think it reflects the gratitude and kinship I feel towards the artists who work with me now and have come before me.

What is your creative ambition?
To be a good teacher! My high school art teacher absolutely changed my life and a large part of that had to do with teaching functioning as a creative practice. His room was always an open humanistic experiment filled with love, ideas, and good discussion. Now he's off being awesome receiving a named doctorate to teach other teachers, but I am still inspired by the idea that my creative practice can come with the way I work through the constant give-take that is teaching. So, my goal is to be a really awesome - and creative- ally to the young people I work with.

{ Octopus fabric, silkscreened polyester }

When you work, do you love the process or the result? Why?
I love the process so much more than the result and am still trying to sort out a way to make the result as pleasing to me. I went to RISD (the Rhode Island School of Design), which is in some ways the ultimate tough-room. Tons of energy went into preparing huge pieces of work for critique each week. My way of taking the stress out of this was to focus my energy and joy in the process, so I could shake the critique off and get working without emotional stress. Now that I'm done with that, I wish I could take some more time to breathe deeply and enjoy the fruits of my labors and in the future, do a better job of promoting and maybe even selling them!

What is you favorite thing you've ever made?

I once hand wove an 8 foot long cloak using a very complicated tapestry weave for a friend who had passed. That project meant so much to me, and I was given the most beautiful cotton yarn by a mentor after describing the project that I then dyed myself. It still makes me a little sad, but I love it as an object that lets me feel resonance with a person who I miss a lot. I love that I was able to MAKE that comfort out of something as simple as string.

To learn more about Alice and her creative practice, you can contact her at alice.costas@gmail.com. Thanks so much for sharing, Alice! I'm really looking forward to collaborating on some projects this year!

**My Creative Friend is a series of blog posts featuring the creative practices of creative women in my life, posted on the last weekend of each month. By sharing our processes, my hope is that we can all learn, grow, and be inspired in our own work. To view previous posts, click on "my creative friend" under labels on the left side of the screen. If you're interested in being featured, please contact me!**

1 comment:

  1. I love Alice's description of herself as a crafter -- I agree that the word gives a connotation of kinship. Very cool!


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