12 Questions: Andrea Alonge

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Andrea Alonge was born in Mesa, AZ and currently lives and works in Portland, OR. She received her BFA from The School Of The Art Institute Of Chicago in 2013, and her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2015. She is an artist primarily working with fiber and textiles, and is a member of Carnation Contemporary in Portland, an artist-run gallery collective. She recently had a solo show at Carnation Contemporary titled The Kind Of Calmness Chaos Brings and has shown nationally and internationally. She will be part of an upcoming virtual exhibition opening November 23rd through December 30th, 2020 China and USA Technology and Innovation in Fiber Art, and has been part of FIberart International and Focus:Fiber. Her work has been published in several catalogs and publications, including the Dutch magazine Textiel Plus.

My work explores connections, relationships, and communication through a lens of tactility in a virtual world. Using patterns, textures, and surface embellishment as marks with which to draw, I create pieces that utilize optical illusions to point to the realm of the virtual, while the symbols and shapes I employ signify spiritual meanings.

1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life?

One of the books that has influenced my life in a significant way is Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino. The book is about the creation/ evolution of the universe and the Earth's creatures, told in different first-person perspectives, through the lens of relationships and connections. My favorite short story is one that is told from the perspective of a mollusk, a creature lacking in sight, hearing, and smell, and communicates through chemical secretions with it's fellow mollusk love. The story speaks to the necessities and failures of communication without clarity, and to the need to relate to a fellow being even without clear channels. I am currently reading a lot of abstract graphic novels, and obviously information about current affairs :)

2. What are you reading or watching right now?

I am currently working on a group of small works that connect to my larger body of work, but are smaller "sketches" through which I can work out new ideas. Some of the concepts I am working with are whirlpools/ spirals, boxes and other containers, tunnels/ pipes, and wormholes- all of which are related to flows of energy or communication. I have been creating throughout the pandemic, as I am one of those people who calms down through working with my hands. If I wasn't in my studio, I think the pandemic would be harder for me. Studio work gives me a way to pass the time I would have spent with others, and also a way to connect with other people in the virtual art world.

3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?

Failure has often set me up for later success. "Failed" pieces have never held me back; I think of them as studies for future successes instead. My favorite failure was the three years I spent at Arizona State University before I dropped out and took time off before going back to school. The time I spent there (studying ceramics!) gave me an idea of the sustainability of a practice outside of an institution, and taking time off, though it would be considered a failure to drop out, gave me a moment of time to consider where I wanted my practice to go and how I could work without specialized equipment or instruction. After I had a few years of exploring my practice on my own, I went back to school- this time at The School Of The Art Institute Of Chicago. I spent my time there thinking of my experience as "graduate school prep" and was able to develop a very coherent body of work that was both sustainable and different than the work I had made before.

4. What is your most unusual habit?

My most unusu