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Tiny Arch Gallery 002: Alyssa Jean

I first met Alyssa when she was shopping at my store with her dad. They were so fun and silly together that I actually thought they were friends. Her dad told me about her work as a proud father does and from there we've been in touch. 
Her exhibition, Metanoia, launched on December 1, 2020 in our Tiny Arch Gallery. Unfortunately, we weren't able to complete this interview sooner. But better late than never? 
Alyssa Jean
M: Hello Alyssa. Are you a full time artist? What else do you do if you aren’t?
A: I am not a full-time artist but it is my full-time passion. In any area of life I try to create with intention and expression. Whether that be in the kitchen or at work, or just outside when I decide to play in nature. For the most part, I'm a semi-full-time marketer and often create content and that's my way of practicing outside the traditional sense of artistry. On the side, I am working on building a business for myself and this is and will be the hub of my creative expression that translates my values. It's a baby for now and living on instagram but I have plans to create a collective of creatives at this studio that share the same or similar values. 
M: Tell us more about Metanoia. What inspired you and the medium you use?
A: Metanoia is the name and exhibition of my senior art show about 2 years ago and if I can pinpoint what inspired me, it's the practice of reflection. I didn't plan out any of these pieces prior to actually physically creating them. They were impulsive and lacked any premeditated thoughts. In retrospect of their individual creations, I found connections to how I was evolving and changing. When I created those pieces, I was in the flow of finding my voice through art. I was finding confidence in myself and personally was deep into my reflective and meditative practices. The pieces reflected my state of being at the time of creation. While I was creating Nakazora, I was so focused on the technical process of creating it and mentally was stuck in a limbo, the space between the sky and earth. I didn't know where I was or what I wanted with my romantic relationship at the time. I was finding my place in the art community on campus. If you look at Reflection, I was becoming more aware of identity and who I was. I'm multi-racial, sharing the cultures of Korean and Filipino. I couldn't find much Filipino art but Korean art resonated with my eyes the most. What time and time again inspires me is the accumulation of connections and experiences I have and the reflection of them. Nothing is ever what it seems the second or third time around.

M: How beautiful! I had no idea Korean art had an influence on you. When you first dropped off your art, I actually thought it reminded me of Korean art.
I see you creatively express yoUrself through various outlets, such as photography, sketching, painting, various printing methods, digitally, and even with zines! That’s amazing. What medium do you feel most connected with and is there any other new channel you hope to learn about?
A: Hmm connected with? While I was studying printmaking at uni, I fell in love with Intaglio, a printmaking process that derives the image from an engraving into copper material. You can recreate so many textures with this medium, like a brushstroke, a pen, and even imprint an image. Now that I'm out of uni, I can't really afford the materials and cost of a studio but I'm working towards it and hope that sooner rather than later, I can be back in a studio making work. I left only scratching the surface of intaglio and I want to come back and really get familiar with the different processes it has to offer. 
There are so many channels that I want to explore like pottery, film photography, and moku hanga woodblock printmaking. It's hard to pick which one to do first! haha
M: I notice a lot of my customers resonated with your work emotionally. I enjoy the stories they share with me when they gravitate towards a particular piece. Many were curious if you will continue to create more woodblock reduction prints. Do you know if more print works are in the future? 
A: I'd love to hear about them. 
And yeah I will continue. I have a feeling not any time soon as my attention is focused on other things, but woodblock is definitely in my future. Printmaking is in my future, it's just a matter of when at this point. I hope to find and create work at a local print studio in the next few years.

M:I will definitely share when we see each other again! 
Often I am most proud of the  jewelry pieces that I create from the spur of the moment where I’m not planning every little detail similar to your pieces from the Metanoia. But usually I am inspired or moved by something or someone, which leads to new ideas. What inspires you? 
How do you keep your creative energy flowing? It’s been difficult during these times for many including myself to keep that motivation to communicate creatively. Any advice? If not, that’s fine! We are all trying!
A: What inspires me are the moments individuals have when they reach an epiphany or have a realization. That moment where you can see things connecting in their eyes. I really want to facilitate a space where more of these sparks happen. I want to cause connections and leave people feeling more fulfilled than when they came. More superficially, I gravitate towards things that are pretty to me: spiral like things, dark earthy colors or lightly hazed sky colors. I am constantly inspired by how light hits or reflects off of things, the vibrancy of colors in nature, and the way we perceive all the things in between. What someone else sees may not be something I can see. This difference in perception inspires me. I guess a whole laundry list of things with it all coming down to people and nature? 
My job forces me to think creatively on a daily basis so I'm really grateful for that. When it comes to creating for myself, that is a whole other beast. For some reason it's much harder to communicate something you really resonate with rather than communicate what someone else has already come up with. Perhaps it's the expectations we have for ourselves or the fear of not communicating our idea optimally. Growing my personal business has made me step outside of my comfort zone by making me verbalize and create visualizations that translate my values. It's become non-negotiable to me to write and create something out of my mind even if its not the best version of itself. It's easier said than done but I've been learning to move onwards with the mvp (aka minimum viable product) rather than focusing on perfecting any certain thing. In the process of letting go of the outcome and embracing the inevitable change of my ideas, it's allowed more creative energy to flow through me. I think all us artists need to do is just surrender. Surrender to the process of creating withholding any judgement or expectation.
M: When lockdown is done and traveling is safe, where do you hope to visit immediately? 
A: When lockdown is done, I want to travel out of the country. I'm not sure which one yet but me and the SO have been thinking about staying in South East Asia for a little bit. They have a great community of creatives and entrepreneurs (or so they say) and also who can go wrong with the food? Plus it's more affordable than places like Paris or Tokyo. I always found that traveling more than anything inspires me the most. If I travel (with no intention of working) I create a lot more than I would at home and not entirely intentionally. So I'm excited for the next true vacation where I can just focus on exploring and creating.

Alyssa Jeans's 'Metanoia' series and other original works are showcased in our Tiny Arch Gallery inside Marida Jewelry's store: 2712 E. 4th Street, Long Beach, CA 90814. Come view the complete collection in person now til the end of February.


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