We had the good fortune of connecting with Alexis Slickelman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alexis, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I am still in the process of slowly building my brand so I think about the reasons to not go through with it all the time! I have always been intimidated of being vulnerable, especially with so many talented artists out there. However, to be perfectly honest, I really believe in my work and of what my work represents. Overall, and probably because of my personal insecurities, my work focuses on connection, whether that be physical or conceptual. I see all of my work as an extension of myself and I really put my heart and soul into everything that I make. I was basically raised to not touch anything, especially art – even when it was encouraged. Just the thought would make me cringe but at some point something changed. My hands became so crucial to the process of interacting with the world around me. My passion to pursue ceramics really developed because of my love of using my hands. Fast forward to my first gallery show where I want to make a statement and really question these gallery rules of not touching the art especially when it came to the fragility of ceramic work. Imagine being encouraged to physically interact with an art work where two jelly beaned shaped ceramic objects are seamlessly balanced on one another while also covered in a thick mud. Oh, and you as the viewer are supposed to use a wet sponge to actually remove the dried mud. It must have been as intimidating as it sounds because hardly anyone interacted with it. I have yet to give up, but I have also found other ways to get people to touch and appreciate my work. What I find most fascinating is, as someone who works with clay, I am accustomed to understanding that my ceramic work at any point will be destroyed and I have learned to be okay with that. So really, at no point do I look at my work and think that it is too fragile to handle and I am merely attempting to make, “here today, gone tomorrow, so don’t get attached to things” a more pedestrian concept.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Since I was a kid, I have wanted to be an artist. I have so many memories of going to those ceramic stores where you glaze the bisque pieces and they fire it for you. Even then I was too impatient to paint the suggested three layers of glaze to get an even and thick color. I remember far too many times where I picked up my work and was so disappointed. That is probably why even today I really don’t like glazing. That and in college my work would always have some form of cross contamination mysteriously on it or the glaze would simply end up not being the color or texture I had imagined. As frustrating at the whole process was and is, I have actually come to love it. In the movie Harold and Maude, Maude tells Harold, “here today, gone tomorrow, so don’t get attached to things”. The moment that I stopped thinking my ceramic work too precious was the moment when I became a real artist. Taking risks and pushing boundaries is a an important part of creating art work. In my work work, I constantly want to question how a viewer interacts with ceramic work as a material through either physical touch or the fragility of ceramics in general. Two years ago, I was able to make ceramic cups for a small coffee shop in Long Beach called Wolf’s Brew. I have a coffee background, so it has always been a dream of mine and hopefully I will have another opportunity to do that again. It was really important for me to use a gritty clay, because I wanted there to be a lot of texture to contrast with the smooth glaze. I also really love marbling clay and that is a constant throughout my work, but I added these little squares to help with the heat of the cup and also just be another textured element. I have noticed that as impatient as I am, I still have such an attention to detail. As of right now, I just de-installed my large work that was installed at Angel’s Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro and I don’t have any new projects lined up. I am talking to someone about installing that work somewhere, but we shall see! These days I have been focused on making plates & bowls because that isn’t something I have made in years and I have some interesting ideas.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is going to make me sad to think about because Covid 19 has really changed every aspect of this question! I am really looking forward to the the upcoming show at Blum & Poe in Culver City. Aaron Garber-Maikovska will be having his paintings up and I was working for his studio and the start of 2020. His paintings are really awesome and I have been looking forward to this show for a while. I also love that area of Culver City! It is changing rapidly but there are still some gems. Thinkspace is over there and I absolutely love those guys because they only have amazing artists showing with them. Klowdenmann recently announced they were closing, but that was truly another amazing gallery. There is also a good coffee shop, Cognoscenti Coffee. I actually worked there for a while and that was how I know the area. There are too many amazing restaurants over there but we would absolutely be ending our night at the Mandrake bar. I have had such a soft spot for that area for years because of their art scene but also I never thought that it had that “too cool” la vibe; not to say that it doesn’t exist there, but it isn’t like the la arts district.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
If you don’t know who jill moniz or her gallery Quotidian, then do yourself a favor and check her out! She has curated the most amazing shows all around Los Angeles. We met back in 2017, and I knew as soon as we were introduced that I wanted to be her best friend. jill’s talent for curating blows my mind. She is so aware of even the smallest details in every show and she is truly one of most amazing people. I can’t say enough great things about her. I am so honored to have been in several of her shows because all of the artists she works with are so extremely talented. Truly, look her up.