ALISON CAUSER

Photographer Osvaldo Ponton sits down on his computer to talk to a stranger on the internet that he assumes is artist Alison Causer. (www.alisoncauser.com)

 

A/S/L?


36/Female/Harlem NYC

 
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And how are you today? 

Feeling good! Anxious to get into the studio today as I have a group show coming up in ...


That's exciting! 

So, like a good internet stranger, I've been googling you the past few minutes and looking at your work 

Ha! I think about this often... What is the identity that I project on the internet.. It's such a part of our contemporary culture 

Absolutely. Often people will just cycle through someone's work in seconds on instagram or a website and immediately create an idea of who the artist is. 

Yes! 

I think that is so fascinating and terrifying

And what's your take away?


I get this sense of mystery from a lot of the painting, like you are trying to show me something but then immediately cover it up so I can't really see it. It's making me uneasy (in the good "art" way)

That is interesting. 

I can relate to that in my older, more abstract work.


Yes, I definitely see that more on the pieces from 2017.

But a mysterious solitude remains in the newer pieces as well.

 I came from a place of pure abstraction for sure, and in a way I felt like it was leading to something else.

 I try to keep a level of abstraction in my figurative work. I feel that a good image is both abstract and figural…  It has been a process of uncovering, in a way.

  The journey is a part of my work. The process of an image and the development of a body of work 

  I'm interested in self discovery. So your reading on the 2017 works feel right. 


Yes! I love winning at "understanding art". 

Nice job! Ha! I feel like the work never lies, even if I can't see it at first 


In some of your newer works there seems to be a bit of a mystical nature theme. Again some menacing figures and maybe some religious allegory.

What took you there?

Looking at the work of Old Masters like Goya, Rubens, and El Greco 

Seeing there subject matter and studying their pictorial narratives as well 


I can guess that some of those masters also influenced your Hell and Garden paintings 

What draws you to study those places?

On your "Eden study" paintings there is also a sense of menace, which is not something typically seen in conventional depictions of the Garden of Eden.

I'm interested in the drama of the paintings, for example:  The Fall of the Damned by Rubens. 

The violence, the sexual undertone of the violence in that image. The idea of the fallen and how one can fall from the graces of power or the moral structure set up by one's time and society.

The color and really the action within the painting. The figures are so active within the image. 

I was also falling out of a long term relationship so I think in some way that fed into that whole attraction to the image  

 
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Ah! Love... the ultimate Heaven and Hell. Maybe the only real ones.

What has been inspiring you to make work now?

Tell us more about the Group show you will be a part of? 

I'm currently in a Master program at New York Studio School and we do a group show each year with a few other artists/classmates.

is the opening 6-10pm Everyone is invited.

  I have been thinking about how monumental women are in the scheme of our social structure and at this very moment in time. And as I look back at the art history gaze toward women I don't often see women portrayed on that scale.

  Women are typically but not exclusively portrayed through the male gaze as sexual or mothering beings.  Those things are not bad or neg but I am interested in portraying women that shows as more complex - often in unflattering positions. 

  Honestly, this is all still in such an embryonic state. I feel a little uneasy about expressing it all. 

  The idea of the journey and returning women back to the natural, primal sense of womanhood. 

On a surface level I'm interested in colossal women in landscape.


That's definitely a big idea to take on. But I suppose that's art’s job. To condense the impossibly big onto a piece a hope some of that energy translates. 

The last few years have been politically rough, but one of the one true positives things taking place is a big societal push to bring true gender equality, and that would definitively mean a lot more monumental women entering the historic and cultural books, since sadly, our history is filled with 99% “Monumental men”

Do you feel an additional amount of pressure being a female artist today? And additional responsibility to make work that moves these ideas forward?

Yes!!

I feel pressure as women artists are still underrepresented at large and especially women of color. It's a huge issue. I don't feel obligated to push any political agenda in my work. I speak from my experience and my experience is as a woman.


Some would say that the best work is made under pressure, but I’m sure it would also be nice to be able to make work without an abstract amount of societal expectation about what your voice should be. Which is not something male artists have to think about nearly as much.

     I think men have a lot of societal pressure but it maybe different pressures 


Absolutely.

I know you are anxious to get to your studio and paint today, So I'll just ask one more question. 

On your website, there is a section titled: "self" Where you mix in some self portraits with portraits of others.

How does this mix of you and other people form the "self"? 

 I was thinking of the idea of The Self as it is different for everyone and how we show different sides of ourselves to different people. And the idea of a single figure straight up portraiture from the chest up. Most of them are friends and lovers.

Lovely!

Have fun at the studio today, and I'm excited to see your work at the show!

Thank you for this interview! This has been fun.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 

 

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