Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work
Alisa Ochoa (AO): I am a visual artist who occasionally hacks together printed objects. I am not trained as a book binder or printmaker, but I am an admirer of the craft. I learned on the job, when I was enlisted to teach letterpress printing at University California, Santa Barbara— then later as a volunteer print steward at Center for the Books Arts, New York. My environment has probably made the biggest impact on the kind of art I make. Growing up in a city like Las Vegas taught me a lot about perception. One would think that the torrent of stimulation would have had a terrible impact on an artist, but it’s proven to be useful.
LAIP: What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?
AO: Last year, I finished two long-standing projects that I am really proud of: Four Walks, a print collaboration with my friend, writer James Guida— and Constellations, a series of cyanotype booklets. Right now, I am working on a few projects simultaneously, which is pretty typical. I am marbling paper for an artist book on fluidity and water protection, designing a risoprint pamphlet inspired by my young son and Richard Serra, and building funky ceramic sculptures that correspond to my series of paintings on time. Speaking of time, I move at a snail’s pace these days!
LAIP: How do you see your work interacting with narrative or story?
AO: Because my work is primarily image-based, there is not a linear narrative. The interaction is more like a dream, a series of fragmented images and syncopated colors on each page, some read fast, others slow. Working in this form allows me to organize these seemingly disparate ideas into one whole.
LAIP: How have libraries informed your creative work? Tell us about the first library you remember playing a part in your artistic development.
AO: Growing up in Las Vegas, a city without art museums (or much public transportation to libraries then), I looked to record jackets and punk zines for wonderment. The activity of folding, collapsing and turning the pages of these objects transported me beyond the confines of two-dimensional space, and into different worlds. Record jackets opened to reveal an interior filled with dazzling color and stylized typography. Punk zines broadcasted messages of riot grrrl feminism and music through their noise-drenched images. These formative experiences with printed matter helped shape my ideas about visual culture.
Growing up in Las Vegas, a city without art museums, I looked to record jackets and punk zines for wonderment…These formative experiences with printed matter helped shape my ideas about visual culture.
LAIP: Can you describe a particular library-incubated project for us?
AO: I visit different public libraries with my young son on a weekly basis. He is 2, so sitting through storytime or children’s programming is both hilarious and impossible. After I am done quickly gathering new books to borrow, I enjoy watching him navigate the book aisles, excited by new-found motor skills, testing gravity. He is in motion yet appears unstable, kind of like one of Richard Serra’s sculptures. There is no allusion or metaphors, just a pure physical phenomenon that shifts in unexpected ways. I cannot help but think of Richard Serra’s Verb List Compilation: Actions to Relate to Oneself. The risoprint pamphlet I am working on is inspired by these observations. The library is quite literally an incubator for a baby and a baby idea.
LAIP: As an artist, what would your ideal library be like? What kinds of stuff would you be able to check out, and what could you do there?
AO: Although I admire pristine private collections like the Morgan Library or Groliers Club in New York, my ideal library would be free to the public and offer creative programming to underserved teens and young adults, like Art Division in Los Angeles. The library aesthetics has to serve community, so big tables, good light, safe indoor and outdoor spaces with tons of books on visual culture from all around the world, through the ages. I like to dream big.
…my ideal library would be free to the public and offer creative programming to underserved teens and young adults…big tables, good light, safe indoor and outdoor spaces with tons of books on visual culture from all around the world, through the ages. I like to dream big.
Alisa Ochoa applies bold colors and vivid patterns to all areas of visual expression, including sculpture and painting. Ochoa’s artistic achievement has been recognized with residencies at Hunter College Ceramic Department, Penland School of Craft, and Marie Walsh Sharpe, and with exhibitions nationwide. After a decade in Brooklyn, New York, she relocated to Dallas, Texas, where she currently lives and works. Visit her online at alisaochoa.comPin It