Saturday, June 2, 2012

Strong Female Leads: Violet Strays' Serrah Russell and Alyssa Volpigno

Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Violet Strays co-curators Serrah Russell and Alyssa Volpigno. Without meeting these ladies prior to our interview at Cairo, I had no idea what to expect of the two, and I am happy to say that beyond being a pleasure to interview, they are full of ardent energy and creative innovation for their work. 

As the founders of Violet Strays, an online art gallery, Serrah and Alyssa created an artist forum that "seeks to emphasize temporality while forging connections between artists through the internet." Up and running for over a year now, the gallery features a new artist of various mediums each week. Created from an artist's perspective, the work in the gallery is carefully selected to fit the aesthetic of transience.   

Throughout the interview, Alyssa, Serrah, and I talked about Boston terriers, appropriate "office food", and the precise art of flavor combinations. Check out photos and words from their interview below. 

The Photoshoot:


Alyssa contemplating 'her' flavor

 Serrah's I-Just-Won-a-Trip-to-Rome!! face


Want to see more photos from the shoot? Go to our Tumblr.

The interview:

Tell me about Violet Strays. What inspired this idea? 
S It started when we were planning to curate a show specifically for collage artists. We applied for a gallery space and didn't  get it, but we had already had made the connections with artists, so we started thinking about another way to showcase these artists without physical space. 
A It seemed like a natural choice to do something online, its a good way to reach people on a global level and much less expensive. 

What sorts of artists are you interested in showcasing? 
S I think we're interested in showing artists that we connect with visually, as well as ones that  feel like they are able to take a week of time on the website and do something that is interactive: to really use the medium and forum we provide. Artists that are willing to take the time and really think about what it means to be exhibited in this type of space. 

Where are you from? 
A I'm from Hillsboro, Oregon. I've been up here since 2007 to go to UW for Interdisciplinary Visual Arts. 
S I grew up in a really cool town south of Seattle called Kent… ha. I came up here to study photography at UW. 

What medium do you typically focus on with your art? 
S I do a lot of collage and mixed/found media, usually using photographic imagery--I use a lot of  fashion magazines and found photos and try to reinterpret the concepts of the images in my art.   
A I also do a lot of collage, mostly with fashion magazines and National Geographics from the 60s and 70s.

What was your first artistic inspiration? 
S I started taking pictures when I was little. I was just taking pictures of really lame stuff on vacation, but somehow at a young age I knew I wanted to to photography. It was really the only thing I wanted to do for college as well. 
A Growing up, my mom and I always did arts and crafts in the afternoon. It was a really nice outlet and routine that I decided I wanted to pursue through college. 

What are you the most proud of at the moment, career or otherwise? 
S I'm really proud of being featured in the current show at Lawrimore Project, "Can't Get There From Here". It's a really strong show that Scott Lawrimore put together with Isaac Layman, Amanda Manitach, Britta Johnson, and others. 
A I am most proud of my business, Saltimbanque Chocolates, at the moment. I just  got on the roster for The Seattle Storefronts Project. 

You are a chocolatier? (!!) 
Yes! So I graduated college in December 2010 and I was looking for a job, so I started a chocolate company. The name "Saltimbanque" comes from the Picasso painting Famille de Saltimbanque. The aesthetic of the business has a fun circus feel to it. 

Who are 3 people from history that you would invite to dinner? 
A Cher, John Steinbeck, Tim Gunn, 
S Steve Martin, Jeff Bridges, Kristen Wiig 

What was the last book you read? 
A Haha, I just finished Dave Ramsay's "Total Money Makeover". I don't think I've read anything that would be considered literature lately. 
S The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, which actually kind of motivated me to quit my day job in a way. 

How would you describe your personal style? 
A "Structured bohemian" I would say. I love turquoise and brown leather and southwest detailing, but I still like to look presentable. 
S More recently I have tried to narrow down my wardrobe to pieces I am more excited about, I am inspired by my sister, who has about 4 pieces in her closet. I'm always trying to narrow it down and become more of a minimalist. I like the idea of mixing feminine and masculine--a very balanced look, just like our signs. We are both libras.

Favorite places to go in Seattle? 
S I like going to Clever Bottle a lot in Belltown. It's very unlike most bars there--creates a good aesthetic experience; everything is done very thoughtfully.
A I love going to the Magnuson 'little dog' park, with my boston terrier. 

If you had to pick a flavor to best represent yourself, which would it be? 
A Cinnamon, Fig, Tequila 
S Tobacco, Honey, Ginger

What is next for both of your careers?
A With Violet Strays, we are continuing to push forward with more great artists. We always have our ears open for a space for a pop-up exhibition. 
S I am also working on putting together a show for August at Paper Hammer Gallery featuring artists who use found materials, as well as an upcoming show with Maggie Carson Romano at SOIL Gallery.

Thanks again to AV & SR for the laughs. Until next time!

*Many thanks to Elissa Ball for letting me steal her tagline for the title of this interview!

1 comment:

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