We had the good fortune of connecting with Alicia Serling and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alicia, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
I almost always think about the letter to Eva Hesse from Sol Lewitt. “JUST DO.” I suppose to some might seem kind of cliche but its content has stuck with me for many years. When I think about my practice, there are certainly highs and lows. Times that I just want to give up. As there is for many, an impending sense of imposter syndrome can be overwhelming at times. When something is just not turning out the way you want and all you want to do is hide it in a dark corner of your studio. In all actuality, I find that in the struggle, within that in the desire to give up. Some really beautiful and generative things can happen. Within this idea of giving up, I think it’s also important to address rejection, and acknowledge that it’s a part of life. Never give up when someone rejects you. Never give up when you feel that imposter syndrome creeping in. “JUST DO.”
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.
My work has changed quite a bit over the years but my love for craft has remained a consistent throughline. I started out showing work that was more distinctly craft in a way. Long hanging tapestries with ink drawings and hand embroidery. Small text-based cross-stitched works with stitched design elements framing them. I also dove into exploring soft sculpture as well. Currently, I am working on pieces that center around themes of feminism, addressing violence against women, and the healing practice of witchcraft. The intersectionality of craft and witchcraft is something I have become increasingly interested in. There’s a lot of play happening in my studio when it comes to materials currently. I’m building and constructing things out of wax, glass jars, bottles, zip ties, plastic craft cords, polyester rope, and matches to name a few. Really building a material language that can speak for itself is something that I have found to be essential.
I’ve learned so much during my time making. Something that has been repeated to me during my BFA and MFA was that “Once a piece leaves your studio, you lose control over it.” This is strange out of context, it sounds like your work has this sort of amorphous, horrific ‘the thing’ like quality. Truly, when it comes down to it, it just means that now it lives in the world. In which it will be viewed when you aren’t there to explain it. Everyone viewing it may take something away from it that is entirely different from your intended, specific meaning. Your job as an artist is to make something that is very close to that intended specific meaning. If you do it well, your viewers hopefully will come up with a resolution that is close to that without your presence.
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.
I absolutely love The Hammer and LACMA. Those spaces have become very dear to me in the short time I have lived in LA. Additionally, if you are planning on hitting up some galleries I highly recommend Commonwealth and Council, Various Small Fires, Murmurs, Blum & Poe, Jeffrey Deitch, and Track 16 Gallery. Don’t forget to grab a latte at Murmur’s cafe while you’re there. If you finish your day near Blum & Poe, I recommend heading to downtown Culver City for dinner and going to Akasha. They have a wonderful seasonal menu that really caters to everyone. If you want a more relaxed day, head to Redondo Beach and then round out the evening with a meal at Little Sister. Their fried okra is some of the best I’ve ever had.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There have been so many people that have affected my life and artistic exploits throughout the years. I would love to recognize them all here. However, if I listed everyone, it would just be bullet points and names. I want to focus on the people who have supported and shaped me in the last few years. To my mother and father, who have endlessly supported me. Thank goodness, I was a little buddle of creative chaos that wrote on their walls in crayon. They continue to explain my work in better ways than I can at times.
To my peers and friends Xiouping, Erica, and Danielle. Each of them have been so supportive, generous, and motivating.
To my mentors at Otis College of Art and Design, Judie Bamber, Renée Petropoulos, Andrea Bowers, and Kori Newkirk. All of which have contributed greatly to my growth and creative output.
Lastly, I would like to recognize my friend, Box. Who has continuously pushed me to try harder, to focus, and dream bigger when it comes to my own practice. Whose vast knowledge and input have impacted me over the last few years.