Alissa Jean-Baptiste

                                                                                                                                 I am here.. Here I am.

                        What is it that you see? 

           How  does this all look to you?

                                                                                                         Pretty. 

 

Little Alissa Holding bag of chips – 1996

 

 

 

Here is a song I made instead of sleeping. 

 

 

 

Creative Process

Sometimes when it is late at night, I have the spontaneous urge to get onto my digital-audio workstation and explore sounds. Within my at-home, digital-audio workstation, there are about 30 libraries filled with thousands of sounds. They are organized in a hierarchy according to audio attribute.

I go though the sounds one by one, triggering the sounds with my midi keyboard.

Usually within five to fifteen minutes of this byte testing, I stumble upon a sound that halts me.

 

The sound captures me.

The sound informs me a melody.

I play that melody.

I set up my tempo and press record.

This is the beginning of the song.

While listening to the first track, I hear in my head something that could accompany the sound.

So, I head to the library again.

 

My creative process often happens in such a way – listening or observing daily life, and suddenly being halted by a realization. My mind begins to wander down a path of curiosity that grows longer the further I wander.

 

 

Alissa wearing her favorite sweater and holding her bass guitar.

 

 

Waiting

The seeds of creativity tend to be planted in my mind when life is slow.

Allow me to recollect the ways in which I have waited during this pandemic and how it has caused me to grow.

 

 

I wait for water to boil.

Anticipating a warm cup of tea, I stand over the pot in deep observance.

 

 

I watch the heatwaves form in the water as they begin to dance and swirl and turn into tiny dots of bubbles that slowly become bigger.

I stand and watch the bigger bubbles merge with the smaller ones

predicting which bubble is going to rush to the surface first

breaking free of the binding base of the pot.

 

 

I enjoy this. I feel like an observational scientist.

Art is a way to express and explore interesting phenomena of day-to-day life,

and much of observation includes waiting.

 

 

 

 

I wait for music to upload. Why?

My internet is as slow as a turtle running in wet cement.

I viscerally experience impatience with this… a creepy crawly feeling all over my skin.

I suppose, however, it is better than waiting in traffic like I used to before the pandemic. In that situation there is no escape.

At least I can get away from my laptop while its uploading so I don’t have to experience this negative feeling.

Perhaps I will go watch some more water boil and make a cup of tea.

 


 

I wait when my husband became ill. This is the most painful kind of waiting.

When he was experiencing excruciating pain and ceaseless vomiting, I could do nothing.

Truly all I could do was cry and pray to God that this would pass soon. It took about a week, and he did make it.

But it was truly horrible to watch my closest friend suffer, become weak and raged. My heart ached as I waited for his recovery.

But I learned to trust the process. The process of the body’s ability to heal.

I learned to let go, and wait patiently.

It just goes to show that with every negative situation thrown our way, there is a new way to grow and learn. 

 


 

Hello, I am Alissa. I am an interdisciplinary artist with a current emphasis on painting. My creative process varies but there are common threads throughout. I am drawn to certain motifs in everyday life and I tend to think about the creation of projects in a similar way. This chapter seeks to uncover some of the “whys” to my actions, showing examples of my work along the way.

 

 

 Branching Motif

I was born and raised on 22 acres of forest land. This allowed me to spend much of my time wandering around outside, asking questions and climbing trees. It was in these formative years where my love of  observing nature began.

I would often wonder why small things in the world resembled the huge things such as the whirlpools in a brook and the swirling Milky Way in the sky. Not much has changed my ways of thinking as a child. I still allow my mind to wander and ask questions of the mysteries that surround us every moment of every day. As I have explored my creative interests in these years at university, I have particularly been drawn to a certain repeating pattern in nature: Branching.

So why branching? Well, I find it’s repetitive nature intriguing. This natural occurrence is seen everywhere. Veins. Roots. Rivers. Lightning. They echo each other in design.  From big to small, we find this common structure in a multitude of organic applications. My mind can’t help but wonder “why?”. Interestingly every instance of branching all serve the same primary purpose: efficient transportation, especially using a path of least resistance. These structures carry blood, water, nutrients and electricity and much more.

We as humans have imitated these tried and true designs in nature by adapting it for our own modern inventions: underground pipes to transport fresh water, a chemist who uses complex tubes to carry compounds with precision, water slides that carry giggling children down twists and turns into a pool, intricate freeways and train systems to carry travelers to their next destination.

For a reason unbeknownst to me, this universally intrinsic design intrigues me.

Fun fact:

When I was a young child, I used to have a reoccurring childhood nightmare; in a very short span of time my entire vision would all at once be consumed by a fast-morphing, dark and branching fractal. It changed form and color with a tangible aggression. I hated that dream. I only had it two or three times growing up but it would jerk me awake in fear.

 

Alissa MJB Art - Mixed media, 2019
“Branching ” – Mixed media, 2019

 

 

 


 

 

Example of my Process

When I am creating a new body of work, I often recall the things I have found interesting in my observations as of late. Some things I find interesting seem most mundane (see photos below).

 

 

Freshly burned pot mark on cutting board | light passing through gummy bears

 

 

Regardless of their lack of loftiness, I try my best to record my ideas and observations in a journal or in a voice memo on my phone as they come. I then go back to those notes when I have the time to create something and think about how an idea could be expanded upon. I begin to verbally and pictorially brainstorm to flesh out the idea and find connecting ideas.

 

Here is the brainstorm process for a body of work created in a University of Washington Drawing class.

 

Alissa MJB Photo
Brainstorming ideas and testing ink brushstrokes

 

 

From these ideas, I begin to experiment with mediums to figure out which would best suit the artistic expression that I was trying to achieve. I also research artists who have made art on related subjects and using similar mediums. I do this in order to find further interesting ideas to borrow from and build upon.

Soon, after some iterations of ideas in my sketch book, I make a materials list and gather them.

I then start making.

Here are some of the works that came from that idea:

 

 

 

AMJB - Mixed Media, 2019
AMJB – Mixed Media, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

AMJB - Mixed Media, 2019
AMJB – Mixed Media, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

AMJB - Mixed Media, 2019
AMJB – Mixed Media, 2019

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

“Bass Man” – Acrylic on Canvas, 20X24, 2015

 

 

 

Music informs the Art

Art informs the Music

This is all I’ve ever known

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Dreamy”, acrylic on canvas, 2018, 30X40

Intentional Gesture

About a week ago, upon asking some acquaintances to give their impressions of my art and music, I received feedback that they saw a correlation between all my work. This was a surprise to me. I have always been under the impression that my work varied vastly in style and subject and was simply incoherent when viewed collectively. However, these people reported a thread of continuity of which I was not conscious. They stated that my work had elements that were “soft”, “dreamy”, and  contained “repetition of motifs”. Granted, I did not show them all my work, but it was encouraging to hear because it meant that my work unconsciously has an identity as a whole.

It was encouraging to hear because I quite often doubt if I am a “real” artist. Am I a poser or a fake? The artists I admire have distinct artist identities. I am not talking simply about a stylistic commonality, but rather an unnamable element of continuity that was uniquely their own. That is why the feedback from my peers uplifted and encouraged me.

In my work, I place high values on communicating joy, lightness, and hope but I was never quite sure if it was coming across. Now I know at least some of my work communicates those feelings, even if they look very different from each other or if they are of varying artistic disciplines.

I do not set out on an artistic endeavor with a specific goal to influence viewers in a certain way. This is because I make art from something that wells up from within me, and it tends to be unclear what the motive is behind the work until it is complete, and even then, is it interpretive. However, I always hope that my work will have an undertone of peace, joy and hope. Don’t get me wrong, I have made some angry art too (see below). But this is not the majority.

 

 

alissa's angree art
AMJB Subconscious emotive sketches, 2019

 

 

 

 

Why do I do what I do?

I find a lot of inspiration for art by thinking about my childhood. Like many, it was in those early years when my interests, proclivities and skills were seeded. I am drawn to old photos and how they reveal how little I remember of the past. Looking at childhood photos reminds me of who I am… the forgotten parts – In a sense, the deepest and purest form of me.

Even though my parents are not fine artists, rather they were musicians, it was part of our homeschool curriculum to spend time drawing from observation every day. Empathy and peace remain themes in my current art and it was developed at a young age. Much of that empathy came from a teaching of the Bible and of the character of Jesus, which remains a steadfast worldview in my life today. I am in constant awe of the grandeur, beauty and mystery of God’s creation.

Growing up with livestock and pets, I developed that empathy. For instance, I felt guilt and sympathetic pain when my brothers caught frogs, roasted slugs, or when I accidentally suffocated a caterpillar in a jar.

Each and every experience of the past has built on each other to bring me to the person I am today, here, now, making the types of things I make.

 

 

Alissa in the garden holding radish, 1995 |  View of Alissa’s childhood backyard   |  Alissa and her goats, 2000

 

 

But alas, I could go on about my past for far too long, potentially causing me to miss out on what is in front of me.

 

 

So let us move our focus to the present.

 

 

Where is this all taking me?

As of now,  I am interested in finding a way to create art that utilizes a combination of my interests in painting, music, dance and 2D animation.

However, in the near future, I plan on exploring my interest in the human body and its ability to express emotion through facial expressions and bodily movement. I plan to do that using oil paint. Here are some figure painting studies that are current works in progress for one of my UW classes:

 

Works in Progress, Fall 2020

 

In the past, I have studied this topic a small amount, but I want to take it further and work to develop my technical and storytelling skills through painting.

 

1, Self Portrait, 2017 | 2, Self Portrait, 2019

 

 

I also began exploring 2D animation and used it as a literal way of adding movement to a form:

 

 

 

 

 

Closing thought

Do not worry about the future

It’s essence is purely imaginary

Do not regret the past

For regret is time poorly spent

Instead, look to this moment

With open eyes

 

See

 

Feel

 

Then make

 

 

 

THANK YOU

 


 

 

 

 

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Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Alissa Jean-Baptiste by Timea Tihanyi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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