alyssa dennis

I'm a native of Baltimore, MD who now has a studio practice in Brooklyn, NY. This past year included a collaboration with New Orleans Airlift and Ranjit Bhatnagar in designing and building a structure for the Music Box Village. I have also started an environmental advocacy project called Common Knowledge. Our goal is to promote education on wild edible and medicinal plants, found specially within the urban landscape, through a visual vocabulary of plant illustrations accessed through interactive and participatory learning tools. It is a cultural platform for sharing information and engaging with children and adults alike. Common Knowledge advocates for an increased awareness of our natural environment while promoting the idea that plant knowledge should exist as common knowledge.
I hold an MFA from Tulane University and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. I have also attended the Solar Energy International, Carbondale, CO and Maryland University of Integrative Health. I've been involved with working in and doing research on various alternative building and construction methods since 2005 which includes straw bale and adobe construction, living roof installation and historic restoration. I often extend my interests in habitual spaces by doing concept illustration for various projects as well as being involved with grass-roots community work. I have been lucky enough to work with the Heliotrope Foundation for the past couple of years.
I've exhibited at Pulse LA, Pulse NYC and ImPulse, Miami as well as Fountain Art Fair. I'm currently showing work with Causey Contemporary, NY.
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Read an interview with Lab Magazine

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My work explores architecture and constructed spaces as an ecosystem — a multi-functional environment where nothing operates independently. It is a visual amalgamation of the choreographed domain and the iterative nature of the un-choreographed. There is a play of inside and outside where spaces are interconnected and visibility opens from one area to the next. My mediums include drawing, photography, model making, sculpture and installation. While I use processes derivative of those of an architectural practice, my purpose is not to visualize an end result or a fixed plan. My work deconstructs architecture by creating speculative, modular systems that are infinitely changeable and within the power of every inhabitant to transform.

Take something as simple as a wall form: a modular component that has the ability to expand or contract in six directions. Walls have been used to divide, demarcate, contain, segregate, and isolate but also protect, shelter, and guide. We have gone too far into the realm of isolation with personal property and single-use spaces. In my compositions, walls open to reveal an integrated built environment, one free of compartmentalization. Transparency and weightlessness exist where structures seem to float in mid air. There is a wealth of potential interactions and symbiosis, not just a wealth of space for space’s sake. There is a freedom of circulation that aims to inspire a break in separation and induce spontaneity. We are all activators of our domains in a process of accretion. There is no end or beginning — only movement and modulation where growth is considered to be the 4th dimension of the built environment.

My sculptures are networks of modular structures made from 100% recycled 1/8 inch Plexiglas salvaged from various frame and print shops. Each section can be broken down and rearranged many times over, much like a child’s building blocks. The use of plastic references both the “throw away” culture in which we live and the glass boxes of Modernist architecture. My bricolage approach seeks to transcend these barren structural surroundings by promoting human connection with the built environment and opens our sensory system to the natural world.

The drawings are produced with an almost scientific meticulousness, parts of which were at any moment erased, scratched into, layered upon or completely covered over. Similar to the hybridization of visual imagery within my work, I also employ myriad textures that are produced through the interaction of various mediums, including graphite, colored pencil, gouache, and ground pigment.