Today we’d like to introduce you to Crystal Alyssa.
Crystal, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I first went to visit the MET art museum in New York one of the only exhibitions that stuck with me was China: Through the Looking Glass. It wasn’t the artwork that interested me as much, but rather, it was the way the artwork was displayed.
The black glossy floors, the crystal bamboo sticks, the mini-bridges; there was not a single white wall or even a rule left unbroken. It was an immersive environment and little did I realize that it would impact me forever and that the person responsible was called a curator. Nobody in my immediate family is creative, but when my mom discovered that at the age of five I was drawing every single seed for sunflowers, she knew I was a little different.
When I was younger, Miami, Florida, specifically Kendall, was not really a place where the art world resided but luckily my mom found an art school that could help me develop my skills, she has always supported me, and that helped out a lot. I went to Priscilla and Tiffany Art Academy after regular school for about seven years. However, in high school, I had successfully convinced myself that art could never be a realistic career.
Luckily in college, I had three professors to convince me otherwise: Peggy Nolan, Pip Brant, and Michael Namkung. I graduated at Florida International University with a Bachelors of Science in Mass Communication and a Bachelors of Fine Art concentrating in Graphic Design. I had always been trying to develop my artwork, but I realized my work was only getting bigger and bigger, from small paintings to large-scale interactive light installations.
During the last show, I exhibited a friend of mine had come up to me and congratulated me on my work, he said he found it extraordinary that I could create such “vivid and massive environments.” It was at that moment that it all made sense to me and I decided to redefine what it means to be an artist and started to explore the art of curating.
I learned the process of producing shows by closely working under Anthony Spinello at Spinello Projects as his designer and Agustina Woodgate as an apprentice. I learned the inside of the art industry through them so instead of waiting to be part of an exhibition I decided just to produce my own. I have produced five shows in the last year alone, which include, W1P, I.R.M.A., There Is No Alternative, M.I.N.D. and New Beginnings for the National League of American Pen Women.
In these shows, I have worked with other amazing artists such as Johanna Altamirano, Shirley Chong, Justin Leary, Alisa Steele, and many others. I have worked closely with my friend Hugo Aldana Jr with the production of all these shows. I believe that the benefits of being an artist is not having to be confined to a title and though I can act as a curator, I do still consider myself an artist because a lot of my productions include collaborating with other artists to design an environment.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has been a long journey that has resembled something of Alice in Wonderland where I just got sucked into this rabbit hole of the art world. There have been many obstacles whether it has been FIU administration complicating my experience to double major in what seemed like opposing degrees or struggling with my health due to stress and anxiety attacks.
One struggle besides trying to graduate was post-graduation. It just so happen that right as I graduated from the gallery I was working with, Spinello Projects closed their space, and I had to quickly find a new job. If it weren’t for that push, I would not have met Stephanie Estrada or Chance Nkosi Gomez who I now collaborate with on projects.
I am even currently producing a show with Nkosi called Birds singing lies. A lot of my struggles have mainly consisted of problem-solving and thinking fast, but I have been fortunate enough to have the support of my mom and sister, who have helped me whenever they can, that includes all my friends as well.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I am ultimately a multidisciplinary artist, but I do identify as a designer and curator as well. About a year ago I had partnered up with Hugo to create W1P where we produced shows for FIU students, and we even did a show for the National League of American Pen Women.
The proudest show I had ever produced was called I.R.M.A., which showcased work by about 80 artists. I got to work closely with Robert Chambers, and it is because of him and Benjamin Zellmer Bellas that ignited my passion for designing/producing exhibitions.
I think my uniqueness comes with my thought process of what is considered part of “the show,” which I believe is everything and sometimes that means breaking the rules that have been set by art industry standards. I once decided to paint a wall black for one of the exhibitions and that sparked inspiration amongst students who saw it and to even incorporate it into their own work.
The professors were not very pleased by this, but I found it exciting because I never understand why the walls always needed to be white and it was obvious that many others felt the same but just didn’t acknowledge that though. I want to do what other young artists don’t have the courage to do so that could hopefully inspire them to go beyond the standard.
I specialize in designing catalogues or any communication material for art exhibitions, producing art exhibitions and video documentation. I consider everything I produce an artwork; therefore, I will always consider myself an artist.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Nothing, because I am right where I am supposed to be, and that could not be possible without the specific decisions I had made.
- Website: crystalalyssa.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @thecrystalalyssa
- Other: @thew1p