Born and raised in New York City, Austin based artist Alyssa Taylor Wendt works between film, installation, and object making. With an undergraduate degree in photography from New York University, a Masters of Fine Arts from the International Center of Photography and Bard College, time spent in rock bands, independent films, and as an antiquarian in between, Wendt’s life experiences have congealed into the making of her work. Using her nature as a collector to prop her films and source materials for object making, time as a musician to create scores, a background in photography that translates seamlessly into moving image, and her interest in the supernatural and animism as a conceptual drive, she brings a plethora of both personal and universal questions into her work. Wendt was kind enough to sit down and chat about her process, experience in Austin, and current projects.
After twelve years in New York City, Wendt jumped into Austin when invited to the city for an exhibition. “I sort of moved here by accident. I had a show with Sean Gaulager at Co-Lab Projects and needed a break from New York. It was circumstantial but I was also interested in what it would be like to make work outside of New York”, Wendt commented. She was immediately impressed by the deep community centered support and the tangible opportunities present in a city of this size. “I came here and immediately found so much support for my work”, Wendt says. While the art market is not strong in Austin, the support garnered from fellow artists, curators, and writers offers its own advantages. Grant opportunities have supported many of Wendt’s projects, namely her films. Her practice is project based- the nature of the conversation will denote the form of expression. Regardless of the specific media, Wendt consistently uses non-linear narrative in order to disconnect from the conventional direct and repetitive logic of popular media. She subverts expectations, encouraging the viewer to think and feel rather than follow a predetermined path. This form of openness is a generosity to the viewer, respecting the experiences that each person carries by allowing space for interpretation. In the same vein, Wendt’s work is steering away from the directly autobiographical and towards the openness of universality. In the end she wants to encourage conversation, instigating self-reflection around how we each move through the world.
Using ideas around animism and cosmology to examine such topics as historical patterns, memory, monument, ruin, and ritual, materials are used as a language in Wendt’s work. She repurposes symbols from her own life in tandem with an examination of historical and cultural systems, “I’m interested in history, folklore, superstitions, and the lack thereof in American culture”. In making she pays close attention to the energies that objects hold, finding the potential form that materials innately carry. In her films and installations there is a clear sensitivity to the idea that objects hold a variety of power in different circumstances- environments have the ability to change the impact of any object. In this, Wendt strives to make work with more questions than answers, allowing the power intuition and openness to bring new meaning.
To further explore Wendt’s work and her recent exhibition at Women & Their Work please visit her website.
Caption: UrGear (2015) Installation View from the exhibtion Compartments of Desire at Women & Their Work Gallery, Austin Texas. Dimensions Variable. Mixed Media: used sports equipment, gold leaf, Icelandic horsehair, brass, latex, ball bearing chain, porcelain teeth, paper mache, coral, yarn, plaster, horn, bone, ash, mirror, lambs wool, rabbit fur, driftwood, Victoriana, silver thread, aluminum, quartz, felt, rejected taxidermy mounts, Ace bandages and energy. Single editions.