Alessandra is a nomadic mixed media painter and educator, hailing from the great state of New Jersey. She earned her BFA in Painting (with a minor in Art History) at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and her MFA in Painting at Indiana University. Since graduating she has taught drawing and painting at several universities nationwide, and is currently teaching at Winona State University in Winona, MN.
I am concurrently working on two connected series called Store Facades and Non-Memories of the Deuce. Both series express my interest in an anachronistic and concocted reality, and explore my perception of a zeitgeist I will never experience firsthand. I’m intrigued by certain banalities of a glorified past (fashion / commerce / sex industry), like decayed signage for a sex shop, or a dusty, potted fern in a department store. In general, I am more interested in the facades and remains than the contents of bygone stores.
In Store Facades, I’m reimagining small-town American business districts, focusing on the dust, decay and dereliction found in the suburban rust-belt towns where I’ve often lived. Many of these ex-downtowns are forgotten but charismatic by the residual evidence of their past; time has fused the new with the old with repurposed stores, mismatched signage, and chips of paint several layers thick. Individual stores in a block have been built, destroyed, and given new facades; now we are left with ghost towns of incongruous buildings and vacant lots. The past may be visible and tangible, yet it is inescapably gone.
With Non-Memories of the Deuce I’m exploring my interested in, though not nostalgic for, the seedy Times Square of the 70s and 80s. Because my earliest visitation occurred after the Disnification of the mid-90s, I've never experienced the grime and candid hedonism which made it infamous. As I began researching the 42nd's prior life, I was fascinated to learn that through sociological texts, memoirs, photography, and home movies, I could begin to understand the zeitgeist and spirit of the area. However, documentation of the mundane is rarely thorough - there are many gaps for me to fill in. Despite my research, I remain somewhat in the dark about the everyday aspects of peep shows, sex clubs, the goings-on inside theatres, what it felt like to walk down the street at night, etc. I'm approaching this series (named for one of TS's many nicknames, the Deuce) with this pseudo-knowledge of a skeezy past. I'm not worried about my (likely wrong) interpretations misrepresenting the past - this is the past as it has been represented to me, though the filter of an unavoidable ignorance.
With my paintings, I try to reintroduce vitality back into these places by introducing larger-than-life elements such as collage, fluorescence, and glowing signage. I allude to the superimposed elements of time through vintage ephemera, transient space, and layered paint. In reimagining the towns’ decay into places of overstated glitz, I have added gold, fluorescence, and a flash of life back into the rack and ruin. My paintings will fade over time - my faux gold leaf will tarnish and my fluorescent paint will lose its luster. Time will make the work become the same unvisitable semblance as the places I portray.