Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Interview for Hors Ligne

This is the full text for a written interview I did for Debra Moffit of Hors Linge magazine.


When you teach workshops what do you do? What kinds of organizations/people come?
AA: In my workshops I do a presentation of the art- its origins, its inspirations, what I feel its speaking to. Then we discuss the design we will do together that day and go into the techniques we will use. Finally I hand out rakes and we start working on the group artwork.

I do the group artworks with all sorts of people. I really enjoy doing my team bonding outings with work groups, to let business folks get barefoot and create art together. I'm on the road at the moment having just done a group artwork as part of a memorial and I'm about to lead another. For both of these memorials the parents of the passed children opened the gathering up to thier wider comunity to create beauty together, which is such a wonderful way to celebrate the memory of a loved one.

How do the patterns emerge? Where do you draw inspiration from? -- (One famous architect told me he gets his inspiration from his "siestas" in Rome between 6 and 7 p.m.)
AA: Inspirations come from all over all the time. I find my strongest inspirations from patterns in nature, which I attempt to decipher and translate as large as I can. But in general, patterns and designs I see around me in every day situations, such as when I am at the fabric store or looking at a magazine, sudenly something strikes me that I would like to revisit and explore. I am always taking photos of ideas that I encounter for later potential. I have a huge album of ideas for when I am in need of a starting point for designing.

What is the coolest personal message you created on commission?/Most sentimental?
I have done many marriage proposals and several have stood out with their messages. For one, the fiances-to-be's families joined to make the design with me. The man who commissioned me told his sweetie that it was a family outing. We all worked together and towards the end I sent the couple up to the overlook to see what had been made. As they walked up I quickly wrote in the words, which were in Polish as she was Polish. They got to the top and she was blown away in surprise. It was so sweet to be a part of such a lovely gathering.

For another one the commission was for a lesbian couple. The woman hiring me asked for the word 'Believe', which had been a word they used over the years to give them strength. 

I did an article on the Drepung Loesling Monks who create intricate sand mandalas and I see some parallels. This is your quote which I would like to explore more: "Then there's the aspect of impermanence that has been so valuable for me to have had the opportunity to experience in such a creative way. The only constant in this existence is impermanence. In the end our lives are about the experiences we've had, not the things we have held on to. And in the face of certain erasure, in the face of our own personal, inevitable demise, the act of rallying forces on behalf of creation and beauty is a declaration of one' existences in the face of a seemingly indifferent ocean of reality. I really like that metaphor- it encourages and propels me."
Society is so bent on trying to resist change and deny the existence of impermanence. How do people react to your ephemeral art? How do you feel when it washes away?AA: People are often amazed and puzzled that I would spend so much time on something that would erase so quickly. I am often asked 'aren't I upset that the art goes away so quickly?' For me its liberating to be released of holding on to what I have created, but for others they can feel frustration on my behalf. there are people who can appreciate what I am doing and appreciate the artwork even more for that aspect of it. The quote you used is one I can still stand behind and I would add another element. I've been coming to have a sense of how our lives are guided and in turn how we shape our own realities. I have been coming to the conclusion that to allow our lives to be led by our joy is to allow us to live joyful lives. Its a simplistic statement, but so deep. I spent plenty of my lifetime in self pity and insecurity and I have come to see that joy is such a better way to experience it. I think that the knowledge of our unavoidable demise has people frightened and thus seeking assurances. We give up so much of our life experience in search of this security- trading our family lives to make more money, or trading our life vigor in order to have a pension (that may or may not be there when we need it). The mystery of what is to come is scary, and Americans, especially, try to create security at every turn- often limiting the ways we can experience life for fear of potential outcomes. Knowing that we all will go the same path eventually, the question of what we choose to do with the time we have is an important, and quite possibly, burdensome one. My choice to create ephemeral beauty is akin to the native american 'heyoka', the person who chose to do everything backwards- laugh when everyone else is crying, cry when all else are laughing, to show that there are many more ways to experience the current reality. I am showing that living through joy, for that is my ultimate motivator- i couldn't have kept it up for so long if joy weren't at the heart of it- is the end in and of itself. When asked what is the purpose of my art, the response is that there is no purpose to anything except to be joyful while doing it, period. creating beauty is a way of bringing this message to many people, for it resonates and gets passed along. What better way can one spend one's time than bringing beauty to the world?

What is your definition of beauty?
AA: For me beauty is an energy transmission. it is what we experience when we are in the presence of whatever we are calling beautiful. we use the word beauty to describe many things, - what is important is what we are feeling at that moment. In a japanese style garden I feel serenity and peace, I feel calm inside, I feel myself relax, my mind expanding. when i first laid eyes upon my beloved, I felt a beautiful spirit, and I felt my heart opening. I think that in the presence of true beauty we feel good inside, it has *us* feeling the positive impact of that state.

Do you have any big ambitions -- like of particular landscapes to decorate/design? Mojave desert? Other beaches?
AA: I'm in the midst of several big collaborative projects which I would rather keep as a surprise. I am wanting to bring my skills and vision to others and go even bigger in the layers of depth that the art can transmit. There are definitely beaches I wish to create upon, and other locations off-beach. For the moment I am about to live out one of my desires- to live next to a beautiful beach that I can practicce and play on, where people can come to me. Another ambition is in the ways that the art is used, the impact it can bring to others, such as in the helping to transform grief.

Does your work extend beyond beaches? Do you have ambitions beyond sand?
AA: The beach just happens to be a great canvas, but its the principles of creating at the largescale that have been what I feel I have been mainly developing. So I've been looking to where else I can apply that knowledge while still using natural materials. I've been playing a lot with using straw and recently I did an artwork in the desert soil using a pickax. I prefer that the art be able to be created relatively quickly, like within the span of a day. Otherwise it begins to become cumbersome and laborious.

What else would you like to share with readers about you, your work, landscapes, nature or anything else that comes to mind?
AA: Something that has been coming through as I refelct upon the journey I've been on from scientist and computer tech to artist, a journey that has been full of steps into the unknown, facing my doubts and inner criticisms, is how when I have listened to the voice of my spirit, and the more I've done to feed it, the more rich my life has become and the more received my art has been. I want to tell those who feel they don't know their purpose or passion, people who may not know their place in the world, that all those things come when one is living from a place of feeding their inner light in all the various ways that can mean. My first step was to allow myself to follow my interests, to spend time with them and even put money towards them, without concern for where it would, or was supposed to lead. My next step was to choose to live in a place that fed my soul, a beautiful place with supportive people. The art seemed to come to me, rather than me find it. I wish this journey of expansion for everyone.

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