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Alea Hurst Interview


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When was the first moment you decided you wanted to be an artist?

There was never one defining moment for me that made me decide to become an
artist. It was more like a persisting need to create that evolved over time. For as
long I can remember, I have been drawing and doodling on anything I could get my
hands on. Around middle-school age, I began to take drawing a little more
seriously, but had the idea I wanted to be a fashion designer. That was what
ultimately set me on the path to becoming a visual artist. My freshman year of high
school I took my first serious art class. I was lucky to have an amazing teacher
who taught me a lot and showed me I had talent. I remember a lot of the students
in my class had the same dream of being fashion designers and were a lot more
talented at it than me. It was intimidating. I also have always tried to stand out from
the crowd and walk my own path. I really wanted to do something different from
everyone else and had no idea so many people wanted to be designers at the
time. That is when I started thinking of being a visual artist instead. I really loved
creating art and did not think of it as a career option until that point. From then on,
my goal changed and being an artist has been my focus. I have not regretted that
choice either. If anything, my need to create has only gotten stronger over the


We think the subjects are still stylish!

Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration is literally everywhere. No matter where I go or what I see I can find
inspiration. So much so, that sometimes it seems like I have ADD with my
projects. I am currently focused on my mask series and have been for a while,
but have tons of scrap paper and notebooks with ideas for future projects.
Specifically, when finding inspiration for my mask paintings I go with what calls
out to me. That is how I choose the three main components of each piece- the
mask, the figure, and the fabric. I research a lot of masks and ultimately choose
the ones I find interesting at the time. It can be very time consuming to find the
right subject and ones that I think will have a good concept. For my figure, I am
inspired by fashion advertisements and runway fashion. I have a large stack of
Vogue issues that I flip through for a starting point. It is the same with the fabric
patterns I use. I am very selective in my fabric. Either it jumps out to me right
away or not at all. If I am attracted to a certain fabric, even if I don’t have a
painting for it yet, I buy it. It always comes in handy later on. I have a large tub
full of fabric for future paintings, but could still spend hours at the fabric store
just browsing.

We're not quite sure what's going on here, but we saw a lot of people dressed like that masked figure a few days ago on Halloween!

If you could work with another artist, who would it be? / who is your
favorite artist?
Wow, that is a hard one. There are A LOT of amazing artists out there now,
especially the artists in the Modify family. Hey y’all, anyone want to
collaborate? But in all seriousness, with social media making artists more
available to larger audiences I have found so many new great artists in just the
past few months that it is hard to pick one or even a few. The contemporary artists I have been drawn to most recently are Wendy Ortiz, Heather McKey,Hannah Yata, and Karen Ann Meyers. That’s a lineup full of girl power right there. Any one of those would be a collaboration I couldn’t refuse. As far as my all-time favorite artist, that is a little easier to choose. It is pretty old school and left field compared to my work, but it is the Baroque sculptor Bernini hands down. I am a painter, not a sculptor but his work gets me every time I see it. I have a goal in life to see his work in person. The way he carved the stone and made it lifelike and fleshy is beyond belief to me.

What has been the best moment in your career?
I have had a lot of really good moments in my career, but I would have to say
my best moment so far was in May of this year. I participated in a charity auction called Roll Out The Barrels in Athens, GA. Each participating artist decorated a rain barrel that was then auctioned off and all proceeds went to the Athens Green School Initiative and benefited environmental awareness. It was a great moment for me as an artist because my barrel generated a lot of interest that resulted in a bidding war at the end of the night. It felt good that people really liked my barrel design, but it felt even better to know that they liked it so much there was competition to own it. The girl who ended up with the highest bid was so happy when she found out the barrel was hers. I remember she was so excited and heard later on that she carried the large barrel for blocks down the street rather than leave it behind to get her car. Moments like that are why I am an artist. I want to bring joy and excitement to people's’ lives through my art. Knowing that people really appreciate my work is what makes all the struggles of being an artist worth it.

We can see why she was so excited, this is awesome!

What is your ideal day?
My ideal day is a relaxing one. Possibly a day at the beach with nothing to do
but relax and be stress free. Even without the beach aspect, it is always nice to
spend a day immersed in a good book. Oh and there would be lots of chocolate (without any calories of course). That may have just turned into more of a fantasy than an ideal day. Oh well, hahaha.

Who is your role model?
My role models are my parents. They are hard workers and have shown me how to work hard and reach for my goals, but still make time for family. They have always supported my choice to be an artist and are probably my biggest fans. It is good to know I have them backing me.

Awww, parents are the best :)

If you could do anything, what would it be?

If I could do anything at all, it would be to travel the world. There are so many countries and cultures that I would like to visit and I have already started a list of top places to go. My list gets longer all the time. I don’t know if I’ll actually get to visit them all, but I sure will if I get the chance. I haven’t really traveled much in my life so far. I am from Georgia and haven’t even left the south yet. I think the farthest I have traveled is maybe two states away. I definitely plan on traveling across the states at some point and then it’s international from there.

Why do you create art?

I create art because I have to. I need to create or I feel like I am going to go insane. There are periods of time when I go without creating for a while, and eventually it feels like if I don’t draw or paint something I’m going to explode. Art is a part of me and it is how I express myself and my feelings to the world. I am naturally a very quiet person and do not say very much, but with art you can communicate to the world without words or boundaries.

What art do you most identify with?

After I started my mask painting series, I began to identify more with pop-surrealism. There is a lot of fascinating work in that genre.

Her art definitely gets a reaction from us!

How has your art changed throughout your life?

My art has changed drastically, especially in the last couple of years. I used to be mainly interested in classical art and focused on painting still life with a landscape thrown in here and there. If you had said I would end up working with figures and masks on unconventional media, I would have said you were crazy. No way that was ever going to happen. I avoided figures to an extreme. Now they are my focus. I guess a major part of being an artist is going with the flow and being able to reinvent yourself when things aren’t working out the way you want them to. It was time to make a change. With still life, I was playing it safe, but with my current work I am making more of a statement and taking greater risks. In a way, my work is mirroring my evolution as a person.

What is your dream project?

Lately, I have had this large scale idea for my mask painting series. It focuses on how I envision the series being viewed. I would really love to have a space that resembles one of those elaborate old portrait halls like in castles or mansions. The kind that are beautiful and eerie all at the same time. All my pieces would be in elaborate frames and line the entire hallway. As you walk down the hall you would get to see each painting not only individually but as a part of the whole space. It would be like some strange and crazy family portrait gallery.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

To “never give up” and when you are told you can’t achieve something work even harder to prove them wrong. It is simple advice and I know it has been said several times before, but it is worth hearing. I think it especially applies to artists or anyone with a dream that doesn’t involve a cookie cutter path.

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