Miami-based artist Alissa Alfonso creates work that honors the natural world by re-purposing found materials to reflect both the abundance and waste characteristic of modern life. Her pieces celebrate the freedom inherent in nature, recognize lost and disappearing landscapes, and warn of a future in which nature can no longer heal itself. Like the artist herself, Alfonso’s art is deeply engaged with the world in which it exists; Her pieces are made from, reflect, or dissolve into their environments.
Created entirely from up-cycled materials, her “Nature’s Medicine” soft sculpture collection features delicately detailed, hand-dyed fabric pieces modeled after traditional medicinal plants and botanicals ingested by humans for their nourishing properties. Healing plants replicated in this collection include everything from “Cattails with Apple Snail Eggs” to “Pink Kush” marijuana. Alfonso’s passion to preserve natural environments and to reconnect her community with the surrounding abundance drives her to constantly collect and repurpose discarded materials of all shapes and sizes. “I’m a total garbage-picker. I’m an alley-troller. I pull stuff from the trash that strikes me. All my clouds are plastic bags.” The fused plastic bag “clouds” and “jellyfish” that hang from string and float across swimming pools in her installation works are both beautiful and melancholy, silently noting the link between overuse of plastic and declining life in the world’s oceans.
Much of Alfonso’s work is designed to involve the surrounding community and actively connect community to environment, moving from individual to big-picture. “Squatter,” a 1973 Shasta Compact Trailer she transformed into a pop-up mobile art gallery, showcases the work of other artists in support of the local underground art scene. Her elegant wall art landscapes are created from recycled, stuffed fabric, a twist on the classic "trapunto” quilting style. The play of depths in these pieces is reminiscent of traditional relief art, while the spectrum of colors reflects the diversity of hues available in Earth’s vast sky, serving as a reminder to look up and appreciate what’s here while it’s still here.
In order to demonstrate how art can be used to raise awareness of critical issues facing our community, I create various works of art using recycled and up-cycled materials. My inspiration springs from seeing the alarming number of plastics and other materials we use in everyday life that are not readily recyclable or reusable. Our reliance on plastics and other packing is creating an enormous amount of trash that typically ends up in a landfill or as pollution contaminating our precious resources such as our beaches and waterways. I focus my creative energy to raises awareness of the importance of up-cycling and recycling in innovative ways to help create a sustainable community that protects and preserves the environment. I feel that it is important to challenge assumptions by creating art which simultaneously inspires and saves our environment. By carefully considering how to use up-cycled fabrics, sustainable media, fused plastic bags, hand dyed textiles and other innovative techniques in my practice, I can create unique pieces of art revealing the beauty of creating using repurposed materials