alyssa dennis

I'm a native of Baltimore, MD who now has a studio practice in Brooklyn, NY. 2015 included a collaboration with New Orleans Airlift and Ranjit Bhatnagar in designing and building a structure for the Music Box Village. As of 2017 I 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. Find out more here.

I'm currently attending a 3 year, full-time herbal studies program at Arbor Vitae School of Traditional Herbalism. I've been involved with working in and doing research on various sustainable, alternative building and construction methods since 2005 which has significantly influenced my work and my philosophy of constructed space/place. 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.

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An interview with Lab Magazine

An interview with artist Swoon

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.