Artist of the Week

Alyssa Kazew

October 20, 2021

Alyssa Kazew is a multi disciplinary artist based in Austin, TX. Kazew graduated with a BFA from Pratt Institute and has since collaborated with retailers and clients such as The New York Times and Printed Matter.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.

Ah, I sort of listlessly lay about spending my days trying to find that perfect amount of coffee where I can get excited enough to make something before crossing that line of anxiety. I have a variety of different to-do lists with all different genres of art ideas, and then I figure out how to go about making these different ideas. More recently I’ve been working on perfecting these like scratchy oil paint drawings ( that I hope sort of resemble those black scratch off sheets that would reveal assorted colors underneath) and making shirts. And if I’m really lucky I’ll think of an idea for a photo to make, but in the meantime I keep myself busy with other ideas.

Would you say that memes are a source of inspiration to you and you work?

Oh yeah, I think on a subconscious and conscious level memes inform my work. I mean I guess most artists paint what they see and I definitely see a lot of memes while “scrolling” . I love the more nonsensical ones, I still think dat boi memes are hilarious and happy to see them re-emerging lately lol. Oh and I love all the Spongebob ones.

Two paintings in Kazew’s Studio. Left: “Rave Boy”, 36” x 40” oil on canvas. Right: “Sponge”, 16” x 20” oil on canvas

Cartoons often appear in your drawings, can you talk about your use of and interest in these characters?

Oh man I mean cartoons are funny and cute and like a universal language or symbol. But it’s also super easy to like superimpose yourself and ideas on them and like essentially make your own fan fic in a way.

What does your studio look like?

Like a fucking mess lol. I work in my apartment sometimes, on like smaller stuff where I can sit at my table and watch tv at the same time. I don’t really have too much furniture in my studio yet, I just got it like 6 months-ish ago? So it’s still a work in progress. I also tend to work on the floor a lot, so it doesn’t really bother me. But my boyfriend said he’s gonna get me an easel soon tho, lol. There’s one area of my studio where I like airbrush, another where I have my heat press, and another where I work on oil paintings, and then the rest of it is just a sea of art supplies and garbage probably.

A corner of Kazew’s studio in Austin, Texas.

When did you move to Austin, Texas and what were your feelings toward leaving New York?

I left NYC in like 2017 I think? I was happy to be out, but I still missed it. I was in NYC for almost a decade. Had some physical and mental health issues, and it was just really time to go. I was overworked, depressed, and not working on my own art enough. So it was great to have a break from ‘the city.’ And really, I still call it that because it’s really the only city. I’ve been trying to visit a lot more lately. I really like how laid back Austin is, all the nature, but most importantly, I’m able to focus on my art here which is amazing, and I definitely don’t take it for granted! But also I’m pretty bored and under stimulated here.

How did you start making jewelry?

Over the pandemic I was only working in my 300 sq ft apartment, so I mainly got interested in things that I could do at home that wouldn’t take up too much space. I was also interested in learning new things to keep myself occupied. I really like fashion, and I follow a handful of jewelry makers on Instagram and ended up getting inspired to try my own. I also started dissecting some of the pieces of jewelry I owned and was like hey…I think I can make something like this. I also started to learn how to use epoxy resin during this time.

Epoxy resin pendant by Alyssa Kazew.

Describe the inception of your ongoing series of photographs. How do you approach themes of alienation in these images?

Hmmm..I guess my photos are like a sort of processing or mash up of like my current emotional states, surroundings, and stuff I see on the internet. I don’t think I’m actively thinking about alienation for any of those pieces, but I could see where that’s like coming out in the mix in a sort of therapy you could say?

“voyer”. Photograph by Alyssa Kazew.


What is your current music rotation?

Oh god, I like a lot of things but just really trying to find something to get me amped up lately lol. Uh, but here’s a handful of songs I’ve been listened to a lot on replay recently :
Two months off – underworld
Ghost – machine girl
I felt love – blue Hawaii
Sex dwarf – soft cell
(And then just to cool down for a minute )…margaritaville – jimmy buffet.
“Are you feeling it now Mr. Krabs? Version 2” photograph by Alyssa Kazew.

How would you describe the presence of humor in your work?

I think at the end of the day I’m just trying to make myself laugh.

“”But that’s so far away” photograph by Alyssa Kazew.

What do you have planned for 2022?

Ideally to be in more art shows. Currently working on my photos and paintings to have a cohesive solo show. I’ve been having alot of fun making shirts, so more of those too. And in a perfect world, more traveling and owning a convertible.

All images courtesy of Alyssa Kazew.

Interview composed and edit by Sam Dybeck.