We had the good fortune of connecting with Katrina Alexy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katrina, what role has risk played in your life or career?
There’s no growth without risk. There’s nothing new without risk. Comfort isn’t necessarily your friend when you have strong creative urges. I think it’s very important to embrace fearlessness and be willing to walk into the unknown. I know in my case, I walked away from a degree in science. I was attending Johns Hopkins University on track to become a nurse, but one day, as I sat in class, tears started streaming down my face. I knew I wanted to get back to my creative self, but had worked for years taking classes and prepping for the program I was in, but I knew on a very deep level that we only live once and I wasn’t living unless I was creating so I dropped out. I never regretted that move. This year I decided to leave a wonderful art teaching job for the same reasons. I missed having the time to spend huge chunks of time dedicated to creating, discovering new materials, failing, experimenting, and feeding the creative soul. My art practice involves making art from items that usually are headed for a landfill so the nature of what I do is always changing. Every time I’m presented with a new material to divert from a landfill, I’m taking a risk. What happens if it doesn’t work out, the materials fail me, I can’t come up with ideas on how to use the materials I have been given??? All these questions arise, yet it all comes back to just leaping and embracing risk, risking failure, but usually discovering something new and challenging and finding a deep, deep joy in creating something new that brings a lot of joy to you and hopefully others.
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.
First and foremost I want people to know I mostly make art from materials that I’m diverting from landfills. I like the challenge of taking materials that might end up in a landfill and creating something that can somehow bring joy to others. Right now I’m working on abstract mosaic totems made from tiles that were headed to a landfill when a tile store near me closed shop and walked away, leaving all their tiles from the last 60 years. These are hundreds of gorgeous, vintage Franciscan tiles that were made right here in LA and all of them were going to be trucked to the dump. They now will be in several mosaics I’m working on for a school, a farmers market, and the LA River. As someone who was born and raised in LA, I’m very excited to be creating art from material made here that has been diverted from funding a home in a landfill.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Watts Towers! Simon Rodia created the Watts towers from scrap items and they are inspiring pieces of human ingenuity. I would take them on hikes up in Griffith Park, Debs Park, Elysian Park, and out to the Backbone trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. We are surrounded by mountains and wild spaces right here in LA. I would take them to my favorite taco truck in East LA or get a sandwich at Phillipe’s in downtown. I would hop on a boat to Catalina to show them the casino on Avalon. A wild time to be in LA is for the 4th of July where we witness the insane firework extravaganza that explode all over my neighborhood in Highland Park. I would load up on dumplings from Masons on Figueroa, pomegranate juice from LaTropicana Market, and watch the crazy fireworks explode over the LA skies.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My mother. That woman always supported me throughout my whole life and always embraced my love of junk! I would find items in the trash, the street, in nature, in thrift shops, etc. and make things for myself and my family and she always supported my creative endeavors. My mother came to a America after WWII and fully understood how precious life was and that we need to embrace every day fully. I think mom saw that I wasn’t a typical suburban kid and encouraged me to live my life fully. When someone you look up to in every way accepts you entirely for who you are, that’s a powerful gift. Both my parents and siblings always have supported me as an artist even though they are all in the sciences. This type of support truly aids a person to be fearless and take chances.