Updated: Apr 14, 2020
@ALICESTONECOLLINS | WWW.ALICESTONECOLLINS.COM | ALPHARETTA, GA | GOUACHE, COLLAGE
"Layering is a way to reflect the multiple sides of every story and life."
As a child growing up in the woods of northeast Georgia, Alice Stone-Collins chased fireflies at night and traded friendship bracelets by day. While she has lived and worked in the Midwest and the mountains of Colorado, the spaces of her upbringing have continued to haunt and track through her work. Asking questions of tradition and resistant to the ties that bind, her work questions if beauty can come from the mundane, the everyday, the apparent dead?
Alice earned her MFA in studio art from the University of Tennessee and has exhibited her work regionally and nationally. She has been a resident artist at KMAC (Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft) based out of Louisville, Kentucky and the David and Julia White Artist Colony in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica. She was also a finalist for the Jean-Claude Reynal Scholarship among other honors and awards.
Currently, Alice is a faculty member at Georgia Gwinnett College in Metro Atlanta where she invites others to explore and expose smaller and larger worlds of possibility.
We are constantly coming home and leaving. We lose; we add; we change. There is a commonness and uniqueness of these experiences. Stale spaces--the mall parking lot, an empty community pool, a neighborhood cul de sac at dawn--are subjects that come to life by exploring their contrasting energies of boredom and beauty, stasis and comfort. Places close to home but yet tinged with certain mythic qualities of wondering how you arrived here. These are the places my eyes have always been drawn to. And with an alert eye, I try to capture what is arriving and what is taking flight.
Buddy System - gouache on paper
Would you elaborate on the sense of time and place that is captured within your work?
I live in the Atlanta suburbs with my family. Throughout our days, we navigate suburbia, schedules, and swim and soccer practice. Time together. Time in the car. Traffic. So many hours of the day can fluctuate between intimacy and uproarious laughter with my kids one hour and then loneliness and silence the next.
My work touches the tangible world of suburbia, loss, and our changing environments. It is hard for me not to think about my children when I make work about what I see in our neighborhood. Our next-door neighbor remodeling his bathroom and putting his old tub in the trash. A flooded playhouse in our backyard. A utility company with traffic cones scattered haphazardly on the street. My daughters are in part responsible for these scenes. They constantly make me wonder about the landscape around us and how we are shaped by the worlds we inhabit.
Blank Flanks - gouache on paper
Layering individual components is integral to your process. Can you tell us a bit about your formula and conceptual use of layers?
The layering initially started as a way for me to build on the processes I used in my early 20’s with large scale paper installations. Not knowing quite how to transition into smaller works, I started the same way I had on the larger paper installations with making multiples, cutting out shapes and arranging them to create a sense of space. This work has evolved over time. The cutouts have gotten more intricate, more accurate regarding spatial development. The painted objects have become more painterly and I’ve started to really experiment with different papers. From cotton rag, rice, Yupo and even patterned scrapbook paper, anything is fair game these days.
While the layering was initially a way for me to formally transition my larger works into a smaller scale to accommodate a lack of studio space, I feel that it also started to translate into a more conceptual way as well to reflect on changes in my life. Moving, job changes, having children—these are all layers of who I am. Layers that make me go back and compare and reflect on the environment I was raised in and compare to that of my own children. Layering is a way to reflect the multiple sides of every story and life. In this sense, the work takes on a more personal level.
Two Paths - gouache on paper, cut & collaged (left)
Brakes - gouache on paper, cut & collaged (right)
You blur the boundary between the real and the surreal. How would you describe that particular flavor of realism in your work?
Most of my subject matter is very close to home… literally things I can see outside my second story studio window or on a run in the neighborhood. But I do like to create a mythic quality to these places by adding a disorienting sense and flavor to these compositions. Much in the same way you might feel returning to your childhood home after years away. I feel that by taking these very mundane ordinary scenes and bringing them to life I am able to ask the viewer questions of the way we engage with our environment and each other.
Much of your work addresses the relationship between built and natural worlds. What would you like the viewer to acknowledge regarding humanity's engagement with its environment?
I feel that so often we are more interested (myself included) in the next thing, that we often forget about what is right in front of us. When I teach, I often talk to my students about the difference between “looking” and “seeing.” In order for us to pay attention to the world around us, we have to be willing to see everything and not mechanically go through the motions. To not just be attracted to the bright and shiny things.
I once read a quote by the artist John Register who said of his western cityscapes and landscapes, “I look for offbeat beauty. I don’t know what I’m looking for until I find it…I like the patina of things that have been battered by life.” I think that is a perfect description for the connection I’m striving for in my work. Something with layers. Something that suggests a story. Multiple stories.
Zora - gouache on paper
Though your work is without a human presence, it conveys a strong sense of narrative. Do you feel that history and storytelling have influenced you and your practice?
Very much so. My grandmother, who was my first art teacher, was very much into family history. I often found myself as a kid dragged to cemeteries out in the middle of nowhere so she could do a rubbing of the headstone. She would sketch old homesteads and trace family trees. I feel that those questions of family and freedom, home and leaving, loss and change, were always on the front and center or periphery of my childhood. They are with me still. In my work. And when I pick up a brush, I can still feel the pressure of her hand curled around mine. That first motion. The first turn in the wheel. My hand. The same hand that now guides my daughters through paint and paper.