URL Resident Artist: Alie Jackson
Alie Jackson is a mixed media artist, designer, and current #bbatx resident artist. For her spring residency, Jackson created an interactive, augmented reality installation to be displayed at our inaugural Power to the People set at Native Hostel. Below she discusses her process, the various themes her work takes, and interacting with social media as an artist.
How do you know you’re an artist? (Besides the obvious!)
I know I’m an artist because I can’t imagine myself as anything else.
You are both an artist and a designer. How do you differentiate those identities? How do you differentiate those styles?
When designing for a client, I am creating something based on their identity. Design has taught me skills that are used in my own work but the way I approach the two is completely different.
What works were formative for you and/or continue to influence your work today?
I received my BFA and have a good foundation of Art History but I think overall life events and experiences influence my work the most. Living in Chicago was definitely one of those experiences. There are so many different art communities and small movements, it really broadened my perspective on what art could be. I actually didn’t make art for a while after living there because I re-evaluated everything I was doing at the time.
Tell us about your process.
There is an intuitive nature to the way I work. I try not to plan anything out and just see where the process takes me. When creating a body of work, I like to define the medium first and then explore different variations of color shape and subject matter. For example, when painting, I am often working on a few things at any given moment and switching between them randomly depending on the materials used and the mood I’m in.
What about your process specifically for our residency? What was the impetus to use social media as an access point for art? How did you conceive of this idea?
A combination of factors contributed to the way I approached this work. Since this is a mostly digital residency, I decided to use digital media as a tool to create it. The work shown at the Power to the People event was not in a traditional “fine art” setting so it posed unique obstacles. This presented the opportunity to use World Lens Studio, a free tool that I used to build an interactive installation that required little set up in the physical world.
What is the payoff in having viewers undergo an extra level of interaction with their smartphone in order to view and engage with the art?
Most people associate Augmented Reality with commercialized media so It was cool to take it out of that context and change people’s perspective. It was also interesting to me that everyone’s experiences were different because of the many variables involved when using your phone as a portal to view the work.
So much of being a creative these days is also about making sure that your work is seen. How have you approached the current art landscape on social media/the Internet? Are you appreciative of that outlet? Or how do you feel about it?
I’ve used social media as a tool to promote live events and reach out to people rather than a place to showcase my work. I will often share in-progress work and little glimpses of my creative process but I would rather people experience my work in the physical location that it’s intended to be seen.
When creating, do you consider how your art will be perceived through a digital lens (i.e. via Instagram, snaps, or photos)?
Yes and no. Specifically for the installation using Snapchat, I had to think about this because using an actual digital lens was how the art was viewed. For everything else I’ve done, it’s not really something I think about.
Though your art interfaces with digital spheres, it appears that you also use traditional mediums like paint, and photography. How do you decide when to move between the two? Are there different thought process behind each?
For the most part, it depends on my mood. I tend to do a lot of painting when work is stressful and busy. I try and avoid computer screens on nights and weekends and it’s almost therapeutic for me. There is a lot of crossover between digital and traditional. I use a lot of photography mixed in with painting on my mixed media work and then sometimes paint backdrops into photographic or video scenes.
How has your work evolved since your first began to the present? How do you foresee it evolving in the next few years? Are there any constant themes?
I used to create work with more technical precision and realism. As time has passed, I’ve been mixing more abstraction and learning new techniques and technology. I think this is how my work will continue to evolve.
Constant themes in my work involve fractured self portraiture, different forms of collage and the idea of formalism. The human body is so versatile and everyone connects with it in some way. I think the reason I use self portraiture a lot is out of convenience. If I feel like using an image of a hand I can just set up my camera on a tripod and take a photo of myself and it’s done.