Andy P. Smith
Bushwick-based artist Alex Chowaniec’s work engages questions of technology, nature, and bodies. Her forthcoming exhibition, a site-specific installation titled GLORIA PATRIA (BURNT ECLIPSE) opens at New York Studio Factory with a reception and special musical performance by Ev on Saturday, March 4, 6-8 p.m. during Armory Arts Week.
“I grew up surrounded by nature,” Chowaniec tells me. “I grew up in Canada and moved to the United States to pursue my graduate work in San Francisco.”
It was there, in San Francisco, where Chowaniec met the artist Lynn Hershman Leeson and worked on Leeson’s film, “! Women Art Revolution,” a project 40 years in the making. Later, Chowaniec became one of the film’s producers with Lynn Hershman Leeson, Kyle Stephan and Carla Sacks as well as a co-author of the eponymous graphic novel by Spain Rodriguez and Lynn Hershman Leeson. Ultimately, Chowaniec made the move to New York for the premiere of this film at MoMA.
“I knew I was never going back to school and this opportunity was the beginning of a community for me here,” Chowaniec says. “I always knew that if I could just get myself here, it would be home.”
Chowaniec has since settled in Bushwick with a studio at New York Studio Factory. “You don’t need a studio to make art,” she says. “But to have a ‘room of one’s own’—I heart Virginia Woolf—is critical to me. My studio here is my sanctuary.”
In her studio, Chowaniec creates paintings, drawings, and sculptural projects with new media extensions, including 3D printing and virtual reality. “My art practice starts with collecting objects and memories from my immediate environment, a shared landscape that we connect with daily. I work in hybrid media, traditional and new, with the conscious goal of creative multiple access points for view[er] engagement. The democratization of access to art is critical to my vision.”
And in so many ways, that too is what Chowaniec loves about Bushwick: the opportunities that come with alternative spaces.
“Alternative spaces provide a vehicle to change the way we make art, engage with art and reach out to community through flexible sites for exhibition, education and organizing,” Chowaniec adds. “Bushwick is home to this [at] SOHO20 Gallery, Theodore:Art, Studio 301 NYC, to name a few.”
Indeed, Bushwick has built itself upon engaging with the arts, and developing alternative spaces to host exhibitions and dialogue. Saturday’s exhibition and performance is just another example. Viva, Bushwick!
Featured image by Angela Altus.