ALICE STONE COLLINS - a colourful collage artist, celebrating the beauty in the mundane
Atlanta, GA / United States
Alice Stone-Collins is an artist living in Atlanta, GA where she is a faculty member at Georgia Gwinnett College. Her work highlights the tensions between the mundane, the everyday, and 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. Alice has been featured on Studio Break Podcast and her work published as the cover art for Aurora, The Allegory Ridge Poetry Anthology. She was also a finalist for the Jean-Claude Reynal Scholarship among other honors and awards.
Alice, can you tell us about your and your journey into the art world?
While I was raised in Northeast Georgia, work and family have taken me across and back the United States from Indiana to Colorado and now back to Georgia and metro Atlanta. This journey has given me a fluid sense of home while sharpening my eye for the specific features that make a place unique. These moves have also happened in between the births of my two daughters, now ages 10 and 7.
I tend to pull imagery for my work where I am, so it changes when I move or when something (like the birth of a child) in my life changes. I am drawn to landscapes, architecture and themes of consumption and conservation in the places we make a home.
You create unique colorful collages. Your work focuses on the beauty in the mundane. How has your art practice evolved over the years?
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.
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 about the way we engage with our environment and each other.
You are also a faculty member at Georgia Gwinnett College. What do you think are the most important skills for the art students at the beginning of their careers?
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.
What is the message behind your art?
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.
What does your art do for you?
While the layering in my work 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.
What has been the most exciting moment of your art career so far?
Any time I can show my work is considered a success. There is nothing like getting the acceptance letter or notification that your work has been chosen by a curator for a show or publication. It makes all the rejections worth it. I have also found residencies I have participated in to be very helpful. Both in making me work outside the box scale-wise due to travel and also change of environment which greatly informs my work. Now that my kids are older, I’m really looking forward to embracing that part of my practice again.
What are your dreams, plans and goals?
While I love the smaller work I have been making over the past several years, I would love to work larger again. After I had my two girls (especially after my second) I stopped thinking of larger installations. I couldn’t picture how to manage that, the kids and teach. But I’m in a good place as an artist and a parent to start scaling things up again.
So, I want to continue to apply for more grant/show opportunities. I feel that this would help me work toward a more sustainable answer/solution for my desire to work large. I think it would also motivate me to really start thinking long term about future opportunities that I would really like to aspire to.
What is the number on advice for fellow artists when deciding on their subject matter?
I feel that you need to paint or make what you know. A stronger connection to your subject matter is going to ultimately come out in the work. Don’t decide on a subject matter because you think it will sell, but because it is something that excites you and makes you want to get to the studio and work.