Name: Alexandra Machover
School: UW Madison
Major: B.S. in Art
School: UW Madison
Major: B.S. in Art
SM: What medium do you work with mainly?
AM: Acrylic paint, and some mixed media collage
AM: I started acrylic in 4th grade, it became the medium I was fluent in and it has been part of my life for so long. I don’t want to say I have mastered it, but I know I can accomplish what I want with it. I physically like using acrylic more than drawing materials, something about it feels good.
SM: What kind of artist do you consider yourself? Expressive or communicative?
AM: A little bit of both. Can you define them?
SM: By expressive I mean abstract, material for material, not trying to convey a message
AM: I am communicative I do not do abstract, there is always a message that can be extracted in my work. There is always a message and its not too literal and not too obvious. It is usually something personal, but I never really show it. Some of my work is purely aesthetic, but it is also communicative because it comes from a place of intent. All of my work is expressive of my emotions or my style or what I find aesthetically pleasing.
SM: You did your undergrad a long way from home in New York, do you think either city, Madison or New York has influenced your art? How?
AM: Definitely madison more, since I lived here as an adult on my own. My work in high school was very “high school-y:”flat and all studies and all skill based. Coming to Madison, my work changed drastically and for the better. Art classes combined with art history classes changed my perception of the world around me and changed my perception of what art is. I used to think that art was always about skill and something wasn’t art unless it was really well done. Art is not just about making a realistic painting.
AM: I love Louis Nevelson, I have only done 2 installations and would love to do more. Her work is about taking a bunch of objects, putting them together and painting them one color. I love that she makes things cohesive through one color. It makes it about color versus objects you see texture under color. I love texture and monochromatics
Also Rauschenberg and interior designs. Not just artists influence me, I love design as well.
right: Louis Nevelson, Dawn's Bedding
SM: What is the main message of your art for you? Is there a message you hope you leave with your viewers? If not, what do you hope your art does?
AM: My art is for myself. I have several styles: I love painting animal skulls; I like the aesthetics and the quality of texture I produce with the materials I use which is indicative of my style. I like to show how it is elegant and sophisticated but kind of grungy because it is an animal skull it is like New York vs. Madison.
Then I also have my collages (image to the left), they started off as wanting to feel completely loose and out of control then adding control by adding imagery later to some of them. I want the viewer to take this mess I made and take a message from it. I never know what I am going to put at first. For the viewer, I want them to draw their own conclusions. My work is vague enough that everyone can relate and it is not telling them what to think. I am putting my emotions on my panels in a way that is not too literal and that anyone can draw a conclusion and make up their own narrative.
SM: Tell me about how you came to your style? Did you experiment with a lot of other media before you settled?
AM: My style developed over the last two years. In fundamental classes it was all over the place and after having Josh as a drawing teacher he loosened me up and by the end of my sophomore year I had a feeling of where I could go with my art. By junior year it developed more because of Fred Stonehouse. Fred made me calm down and control myself. I was working really big and it was out of control, then I starting working on smaller handmade paper and it allowed me to focus and control what I was doing and that was what when I started doing the skulls. This blog thefashionhash.com is a blog; I met the girl who writes it, who has amazing clothes and apartment. When I came home from her apartment I wanted to paint a skull I saw in her room, I give her the credit because ever since then I painted skulls. After seeing her apartment, I saw what design and art could be. Collaging and other art became more purposeful after that. Instead of random narratives I chose narratives in my life, and choose more imagery from what I am trying to convey instead of waiting for them- I am purposefully trying.
I did photography, black and white 35mm, sculpture, 2d, 3d, I am not a computer person. I am not a metals person. I am not a wood person. I am just an acrylic paint person. Acrylic, wood, paints. I am glad I experimented and the art department made me try them, but I found out how much more therapeutic painting is for me and how much more I can express myself with them I am so much more capable with acrylic than any other medium.
Left Photo: Winner of the American Photo on Campus magazine contest by Alexandra Machover
SM: Describe your process for this piece "Untitled: Elephant"
AM: Step one. I get handmade paper or wood then I gesso on it with white gesso, it is preferably thicker then I add texture with the shitty paper towels in Humanities because they are the best for texture.
Then I continue adding texture gesso, paper towels, dry brush etc. Once I feel like the texture of a bone has been achieved, I let it dry. Then, I find an image of a skull I would like to use, the skulls I like are: cow skulls, deer sometimes, and the elephant was random, but worked out well. I trace the skulls; I do not draw because I don’t think it is necessary, it’s not the point. The point is the painting quality. I trace from my computer screen because I don’t have a printer! I draw on the back with charcoal and transfer it to the surface. Then, I paint it with a limited and minimal color palette. I think there is always a time to stop. I don’t want my stuff to look over worked or over labored I paint until the moment it is finished, then I know it is done.
SM: People who know your work know you skulls are analogous to your signature, when did you start using them in your art?
AM: They are aesthetically pleasing to me, which is part of it. I like the cleanliness of them.
It can have a meaning, I am from New York, but I have spent the last four years of my life in Wisconsin, which has become part of my identity and cows are the animal of Wisconsin. It is a combination of my two identities; sophisticated new york meets the Midwest.
SM: Have you worked with the skulls in other media?
AM: I did a photogram of a cow skull, I did a stencil in cardboard which I thought was successful. I bought a fake taxidermy skull, which I am covering in Swarovski crystals, another New York/WI mash-up of glam and country. I would like to explore it in other media-maybe cardboard. It’s on my list of things to do.
SM: Do you think the skulls are a phase of your art right now?
AM: Yes, totally. I think every part of my art is a phase and it will always be changing. You can do the same thing a million ways, but why do that when you can keep pushing the envelope. Hopefully, I can keep doing them and making them interesting, but I haven’t done them in a while now, the last one was so much work I was like, “I can’t do them for a while now.”
SM: You also explore materials in your work, is there an intended meaning with them? Do they stand for anything else or are they pure material for you?
AM: Certain things are pure material, like when I use a piece of canvas just to create texture. But when I use vintage National Geographic’s, I am using them for their imagery and the reason why is I don’t really enjoy painting people or scenes. In my head there are so many images in this world, why should I create my own with art materials when I can extract them from something that is already made. With the national geographic collages I take images I find, and they express what I want to express and those are more than just aesthetics.
SM: You have absolutely established your own style in your work, after finding a comfortable and confident way you like to work; do you ever find yourself struggling to with coming up with pieces?
AM: Nope, not anymore surprisingly. Its gotten to the point where I am always coming up with ideas and I write them down because there are so many things I want to do. I have a list in my phone of them, I think it generates ideas. The reason I don’t struggle to come up with ideas is because my method is waiting for the ideas to come to me and now they shoot at me like wild fire. I hope I don’t jinx myself, but I the more creative things I do the more ideas I get.
SM: Is there anything you want to say about your art that people might not immediately see in it by just looking?
AM: I think that everything intend to put people can read, I think my art is relatable and it is not too ambiguous. It is relatable to an everyday viewer or an art viewer and there is nothing more I would say about it.
SM: Did majoring in art benefit your work? How did it influence you?
AM: It made me focus more on my art. I think I am the most focused I have ever been. had I not been an art major it would have ended up as a hobby and less as a lifestyle. It has become my life rather than something I just like to do.
SM: What do you see as your personal goal with art? Do you make it with hopes of being in a gallery, homes, public areas?
AM: Its almost like the same approach with art, where the ideas come to me. I feel like whatever is going to happen will happen to me. I am not going to force it. I am not going to force myself to work in a place that is going to hinder my creativity. If something doesn’t happen which is possible, I will figure it out, I would enjoy working on the business aspects of art.
SM: You also express yourself via your blog, tell me about what you’re doing there.
AM: My blog originally started from a shitty summer. I kind of was in an artistic and life slump. I didn’t get blogging and didn’t understand it and I was sitting with a friend and he said he thought would be good at blogging and he said it was like “something tangible to look back on.”
So then I started blogging. I think it has totally improved everything about me as a person and an artist. It is both for myself, in that it sparks my creativity more and it is always generating new ideas and it causes me to see the world from a different angle. I am always thinking about how I can incorporate this artistically in my blog I am always looking at the world through the lens of an artist all because of my blog and I want to see things and make them artistic. It is also because I want to share it with people. I love sharing things I make and find interesting with others and I like putting my art on there from time to time but it is mostly the progress, I don’t just post my portfolio.
SM: Does having a blog help you explore different avenues in your art?
AM: It doesn’t make my art different, it doesn’t directly affect my art but the ideas that are coming to me.
SM: To me, the clothes and jewelry you alter, your photos and your paintings all have a similar feel their simple use of color. Do you think there is a theme or trend throughout what you make?
AM: Yes, I think that whatever I make is just my style and who I am and it is not even on purpose. It is subconscious that everything I do has the same style. It is just my taste; it permeates through everything I make.
SM: Plans and goals for your art, blog and other endeavors?
AM: I just like spreading it and I want to spread it as far as I can without forcing it. If people will value it and appreciate it that’s all I care about. For myself, I want to become better.