At the LOFT, we love our local artists and it shows. Below is a conversation with our own Ellie Schreiner and one of our favorite local artists, Alicia Armstrong as they both sit down for a short Q & A.
Ellie Schreiner: Where are you from and what brought you to Asheville?
Alicia Armstrong: I was born in Ann Arbor, MI and grew up in Columbia, SC. After attending college at USC, I did a bit of traveling and then decided to move to Asheville when I was 21. I used to go to summer camp in here when I was a little girl. I moved here to finish up my degree at UNCA, where I got a BFA in painting.
ES: Tell me a bit about your art.
AA: I started out as a ceramic sculptor before moving on to painting. My paintings are abstract and narrative. I tend to repeat certain symbols: boats, ladders, and birds, to name a few. I also play with light and dark, in color as well as metaphorically. You cannot have joy without suffering, happiness without pain. The light and dark are at odds with each other, but each is enhanced by the other.
I started making jewelry about ten years ago. It’s a way for me to work with my hands, and create in a three-dimensional way. I am a self taught jeweler. I started working in wire and beads and now I primarily work in sterling silver and copper. Thematically, I use a lot of spirals. They are symbolic and meaningful to me. They are spiritual, eternal, and endless. Every piece I make is different. They are similar in style but each is unique.
For me, painting is like a long-term relationship and jewelry is like a one-night-stand. They both have their exciting parts. Creating jewelry is a relatively quick process, so I have to constantly be inventing new designs, where as with painting, I can slowly develop a style over a long period of time. They process is a lot slower. Being able to work in these two different mediums is a nice balance for me.
ES: What is it like being a working artist in Asheville?
AA: On one hand, it’s really hard to be taken seriously as an artist in Asheville. Everybody wants to call themselves an artist, but there are very few people actually making a living at it, as I do. I don’t have another job. This is how I pay my bills. However, the upside of it is that there is a big artist community to connect with. There are a lot opportunities to collaborate and work together. There’s definitely a sense of- you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
ES: Thank you, Alicia!
Armstrong’s sells her jewelry at the LOFT as well as Elementality. Her paintings can be found at Atilier in Charlston, SC, Portfolio Art Gallery in Columbia, SC, Gallery 17 in Greenville, SC, and Greg Irby Fine Art in Atlanta, GA. She will soon be represented at Eno Gallery in Hillsborough, SC.
For more info, please find Armstrong online at: