Allie Pisarro-Grant is an artist I was very delighted to have met here in New York. She attended RISD and has been working in New York City for the past 7 years. One day while commuting to work I saw Allie holding a Pearl Paint bag, so I decided to talk to her. Since then I’ve caught her work at The Brucennial and we’ve been friends ever since. She also coincidentally showed last New Years with some of my friends in Milwaukee. Recently we met up to do a studio visit and I got to know her work a little better.
I ran into Allie near her studio… we were both heading there but ran into each other on the street. Her studio is located inside of a large warehouse that other artists also rent out.
Allie has a small but nicely organized space, lit by fluorescent lights that for some reason reminded me of this ceramics shop my mom worked at when I was a kid. The fluorescents made that one noise… you know the sound. The space was lit really well- it was very clean and primed up for art making. It was a strictly business studio spot, no distractions really- everything readily available and set up for her to work. The table had plastic on it for protection from splatters, and her brushes were cleaned and pigments all nicely organized.
These paintings are made from a bird’s eye perspective, by laying them down on the ground and applying pigment from above. Sometimes she stands on a ladder and works on them. Her studio has a sunroof which she sometimes uses to get a better perspective on her work.
The roof has a rad view for smoke breaks.
Back to the studio.
It’s neat that she pigment coded the tops of her pigment jars with these strips of paper.
Allie made that gods-eye with her friends. That painting was featured in this past Brucennial.
Here’s a scrap piece of canvas with some pigment tests on it.
This painting is sexy.
Allie has really been into this Giacometti book. Its written from the perspective of a man who was getting his portrait sculpted by Giacometti. The book is about how Giacometti would repeatedly get the man’s portrait to a spot where it was near completion and then mess it all up with a mistake, and this would repeat over and over again. Someone once told me that Giacometti lived above a cafe, where he would go down and smoke cigarettes and mack on girls all day, and then go back upstairs and work on art, and go back and forth from macking/ smoking cigs in the cafe and working upstairs all day.
This painting kicks ass because it reminds me of those fabric paint projects that grandmas use to decorate sweaters with pumpkins or snowflakes. Allie told me that she was thinking of fabric paint when she made it.
One thing that really impressed me about visiting Allie was how well spoken she is. Being well-read is also part of Allie’s professional life as she is currently the manager of the book store at PS1 Moma. We talked about how she manages the time to make work with a full time job. Luckily for her, her painting process moves fairly quickly.
During the winter of 2010-11 Allie was following the Al Jazeera English news channel’s coverage of protests in Tunisia and Egypt. She was fascinated by the power of the people demonstrating in Tahrir Square. Following the media coverage gave her a new perspective on what pacifist political action could look like. Growing up with very creative parents, who participated in sit-ins, draft dodging, and bra burning in the 60’s, it was very refreshing to Allie to see civil disobedience in action. Watching the masses of people gathered in large public spaces, filmed from rooftops above, and streaming live on her computer- those images really stuck with her. Allie uses a gridded format to visualize what she was most affected by from those images- power in numbers, the almost human waves created by a large group of people moving as a single unit, and the erosion of a city’s grid, which she considers to be a concrete symbol of its power structures.
Allie is interested in the Russian Constructivists from the 1920’s, who utilized photography to show unfamiliar views of architecture and urban life. She told me she admires Rodchenko and Moholy-Nagy, who use their cameras to make radical compositions out of the mundane to demonstrate their rapidly changing environment- and she has similar goals with her work.
I asked Allie about her paintings. some of which resemble flags. She told me she hasn’t made many flag paintings, but she thinks about them a lot. With her flag works, she strives to use simple painterly gestures to evoke culture references or forms that she’s interested in.
It was getting pretty late, and we decided to go to a bar where her boyfriend bartends. After I photographed most of her work, we decided to wrap stuff up and head out.
Later Allie’s Studio.
Thanks to Allie for the visit!