This interview was conducted by Gigi Chen in November of 2016.

GC: Tell me where you were born and raised.

AW: I was born in Iowa. We lived in Mississippi for a while, and then in Louisiana. When I was 8.5, we moved to Arkansas (we being my mom and younger sister). We lived in a few different houses until we settled into a place nestled deep in the woods of the Ozark Mountains. It was there that I spent the rest of my childhood.

GC: Did it affect how you started making art?
AW: Sure. I spent most of my time in the woods with my younger sister Emily. We had 50 acres to roam freely. I lived in a total dreamworld.

GC: Did you study anywhere?
AW: No

GC: What books are you reading right now? Favorite stories?
AW: I’m listening to Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood when I drive, and I just picked up my girlfriend’s copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The Yellow Wallpaper, Die Verwandlung (the metamorphosis), Solaris, Coraline, Alice in Wonderland, The handmaid’s tale, and Dune.

GC: Why photography and not a different form of creativity?
AW: As a child I remember being fascinated with the way light hit dust particles in the air, and how the sun would shine through the blinds in the evening, landing on passing faces. I would run my small fingers through the light, and watch as it faded into nothing. I truly believed it was magic. It was only natural that I began attempting to capture those things after I got a digital camera (it was a little red Samsung). I never put that thing down. I would get lost in the woods and take pictures of trees and clouds all day. It became my therapy. 

GC: I see you predominately photograph women. What about the female form intrigues you?
AW: Women are the most beautiful, powerful, misunderstood creatures. I focus primarily on self portraits, and I myself happen to identify as a woman. I’ve had the urge to photograph others lately, though. I actually want to do a series of men. I’d like to explore the not-so-often-portrayed (vulnerable/feminine) side of them.

GC: Do the roles of gender identity inform your work? How do you identify yourself?

AW: If they do it’s not a conscious effort. I’ve thought about how I identify until my brain turned into mush. I have come to the conclusion that although I am comfortable being a female socially, internally my gender feels a lot more fluid.

GC: And what is on your mind when you shoot yourself? Do you work with anyone to capture these images?  

AW: It’s the only time that my mind isn’t jumping around. Every now and then my friend Damara will help with aspects of a shoot.

GC: When and how did you start showing in galleries? Was that always your goal?
AW: I only very recently started showing in galleries, and I didn’t have any specific goals to do so when I first began shooting.

GC: How essential is beauty in your work? What is beauty to you. Both in your work and in the world.
AW: The things I find beautiful are not conventional. I want the light I’m working with to shine of the filthy, grimy parts that aren’t always found to be beautiful.

GC: Do you have a background in old-school dark room? Or are you all-digital?
AW: I’ve never been around darkroom equipment in my life, but recently I picked up the art of pinhole photography. I really enjoy this method of shooting because more archaic techniques are used and the process is very hands on and the outcome always unknown until the photo is taken through the developing process.
I also shoot around with my 35mm camera, but I send those rolls of film to a lab (Indie Film Lab) to develop/scan them for me. I am capable of developing my own negatives, but I don’t care to do that unless I can go all the way and make my own prints. So in the meantime I’m content with sending film off.
I crave converting completely to film, but that’s not realistic for me at this point in time.

GC: What role does the camera phone play in your work?
AW: It’s the most accessible camera there is, and I look at most of the iPhone photos I take as “sketches” so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, you can make art from a camera phone, and from literally any type of camera. I do believe it’s the artist that creates the magic and not the equipment. But just as traditional artists have a preference for specific materials, photographers (myself at least) definitely have equipment preferences.

GC: What about life on Instagram? Do you feel compelled to shoot more because of Social Media?
AW: I daydream about shutting myself off from social media all of the time. It worries me that I would ever be creating work for “likes and comments”. I’ll often be censoring myself when I shoot, and I won’t realize it until later. I hate that! I want to create freely. Scrolling through social media is overstimulating to me. Such an influx of constant images hurts my brain, and I feel like it hinders my creativity.
I think it can be a good thing when it comes to meeting friends, art opportunities, etc.

GC: Alli, you are in your mid-20’s. The youngest in our GRRRL group. How do you feel about being apart of a group of women, and in many cases, who are about a decade older than you?
AW: I haven’t given much thought to it! I’ve had friends that are older than me (some of them twice my age or more) since I was about 18. I’m also probably the least experienced in the group, so I’m sure I will learn a lot about the art world from everyone.

 © Grrrl Art 2016