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Artist Alisa McRonald

Alisa McRonald’s woven weirdos live in the ironic pop-culture paradise of a Queer GenX Feminist. Her work is a tactile fruit salad with a soupçon of the esoteric.

She has exhibited and performed both nationally and internationally and her work has been featured in publications such as: The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar Japan, Nylon Magazine and Giant Robot Magazine. She was awarded the 2020 Best of Craft and Design Award from the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair and her work has been featured on many curatorial lists.

In addition to maintaining her art practice in Guelph, Alisa also acts as a creative mentor and teacher/facilitator via various organizations including Art Not Shame. She unites her entrenchment in pop culture with her unparalleled sewing/sculpture/story-telling skills. She is inspired by other handmade items such as quilts and afghans for her, these items have a feeling of nostalgia and comfort to them. In addition, Alisa often uses recycled materials to lend to the nostalgic feel as well as fit with her philosophy of re-using what she has.

"As a contemporary textile artist, I have always straddled the line between art and craft. Both are equally as important to me and, in addition to having a growing exhibition list, I have taught craft related technique classes for over 10 years.

I have always lived by the 90s DIY culture ethos both out of necessity and a belief in it. There are so many items around us that can be used to make art and art making tools with very little impact on the environment. Reusing, making it myself and trading skills/ goods with others is how I was raised and what I bring to my artistic practice. Since I started weaving, I have made my own looms out of found materials. In sourcing raw materials, I turn to thrift stores and knitters with bins of leftover project yarn. I make my own yarns out of t-shirts and other discarded textiles. The whole process, for me, from making the tools, creating the necessary materials right through to the finished product encompasses my creative process."

Tell us a little about yourself and your background in the arts.

I was born in Guelph, Ontario - a town a bit west of Toronto. As a teen, I could not wait to get out! I headed to Montreal for art school and dropped out after a year and that is when the real adventure started. I became a full-ish time artist and hairdresser. And, over about 16 years, I lived in New York City, Los Angeles and Toronto with a very short stay in Tokyo. During those years, I mostly created soft sculptures, performances and installations - all pretty much using textiles. I landed back in my hometown of Guelph with my partner and decided to go deep into textiles. For a while, I worked at a yarn mill and learned all about different fibers and how to spin and dye them. I also formally pursued tapestry weaving with my mentor, Ixchel Suarez - a master weaver who, to my great luck, happed to live near by. For about 7 years now, I have had a stable studio practice. I also really enjoy teaching textile related workshops like weaving, crochet and punch needle. Oh, and I only give haircuts to friends and family these days, but I love it and could never give it up fully.

What kind of work are you currently making?

I'm currently preparing for a show at a gallery in Toronto called Likely General which is in May and for the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair which is in July. I've got my large framed stretched with burlap and I'm working on 6 mid-sized punch needle pieces. I also have my medium loom set up and am working on a few mid-sized weavings. Additionally, I'm finishing work by adding backings and preparing them to hang. I may even work on a few hand-made dolls for my exhibition in May!

What is a day like in the studio for you?

I usually arrive about 10:30 after a nice walk from home. I can't concentrate until I get all my computer work and emails done, so I usually start with that. I eat lunch and contemplate the work I'm currently creating. I look at colour and maybe pick out a pallet. Then, I get started and usually work until 4:30 or so. I may come back to it at night but would only be doing mindless stuff like sewing on backings or making shrink-dink tags. I think my bad work habit is not getting up and moving around enough... once I'm settled into creating I sort of get in the groove. I usually listen to music and occasionally a witch-y podcast.

What are you looking at right now and/or reading?

Since the pandemic, I'm still looking at a lot of art online - but hope to visit galleries a lot more during the summer (I would love to get to New York to see the Faith Ringgold show that is currently up at the New Museum). Some of my faves are, Simone Saunders who makes these fantastic punch needle pieces exploring themes of Black womanhood and ancestorship. Kayla Mattes who weaves these exquisite almost collages of current memes and random pop-culture stuff. Rachel Hine who weaves beautiful portraits and faces. Dance Doyle - again amazing weaving esoteric imagery and gorgeousness. Also, the woven cat chairs created by Selby H. Inglefield! So much beautiful and contemporary textile work. In terms of reading... I'm always up for a good rock biography or some high fantasy!

Where can we find more of your work?

The most currently updated space to see my work would be my instagram account (@alisa_mcronald), my website is a great place ( I always encourage folks to sign up or my email list.

Upcoming shows:

April through end of May - Roaring Artist Gallery

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