Miami-based artist Alissa Alfonso creates work that honors the natural world by repurposing found materials to reflect both the abundance and waste characteristic of modern life. Her pieces celebrate the freedom inherent in nature, recognize lost and disappearing landscapes, and warn of a future in which nature can no longer heal itself. Like the artist herself, Alfonso’s art is deeply engaged with the world in which it exists; Her pieces are made from, reflect, or dissolve into their environments.
Created entirely from upcycled materials, her “Nature’s Medicine” soft sculpture collection features delicately detailed, hand-dyed fabric pieces modeled after traditional medicinal plants and botanicals ingested by humans for their nourishing properties. Healing plants replicated in this collection include everything from “Cattails with Apple Snail Eggs” to “Pink Kush” marijuana. Alfonso’s passion to preserve natural environments and to reconnect her community with the surrounding abundance drives her to constantly collect and repurpose discarded materials of all shapes and sizes. “I’m a total garbage-picker. I’m an alley-troller. I pull stuff from the trash that strikes me. All my clouds are plastic bags.” The fused plastic bag “clouds” and “jellyfish” that hang from string and float across swimming pools in her installation works are both beautiful and melancholy, silently noting the link between overuse of plastic and declining life in the world’s oceans.
Much of Alfonso’s work is designed to involve the surrounding community and actively connect community to environment, moving from individual to big-picture. “Squatter,” a 1973 Shasta Compact Trailer she transformed into a pop-up mobile art gallery, showcases the work of other artists in support of the local underground art scene. Her elegant wall art landscapes are created from recycled, stuffed fabric, a twist on the classic "trapunto” quilting style. The play of depths in these pieces is reminiscent of traditional relief art, while the spectrum of colors reflects the diversity of hues available in Earth’s vast sky, serving as a reminder to look up and appreciate what’s here while it’s still here.