Interview With Andrea Alonge

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
I am originally from Arizona, but I have lived all over the country, most recently in Detroit, Michigan. I make fiber work about mobile technology, allowing the textiles I use to provide a tactile counterpoint to the smoothness of the digital world and its entryways. I am really interested in the ways our phones allow us to relate and communicate, and my works explore what it means to connect through the mediation of a screen. 

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
I am an avid observer of all types of communication, through pictures, language, or other more subtle means. I use all types of different sources of inspiration as I make work- cell phone advertising, pornography, and especially stock photography. Instagram is another favorite. I also read a lot of tech articles that study the effects of different types of technology on human behavior, and sometimes they lead directly to a new body of work.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
My 1970s New Home sewing machine is one of the most important tools I use. My friend gave it to me when my newer Singer broke, and when I started sewing with it I wished my other machine had broken earlier. It's a workhorse, and I never worry about using heavy or thick material in it. I also definitely need fusible adhesive- dealing with all my tiny pieces without it would be a nightmare.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?
Size can be an obstacle for me. I don't always have access to a large space, and it can be challenging to sew something extra wide on a small home machine. I often will quilt my work in smaller pieces, joining them together nearer the end to make a larger work.

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?  
For the past few years, I've been exploring cell phones and their effects on human behavior. Themes that come up are relationships, love, sex, identity/ representation, and surveillance. I'm really interested in the cell phone as a tool whose use has both positive and negative consequences for us as people in society, and I think the ways we communicate with each other and how they've changed over time is worth examining.