Being Nosey: Q+A with Alanna Reeves

Roll Call:

What’s your name?

Alanna Reeves

Where are you from?

I was born in Washington, D.C. and split my time between there and Kensington, Maryland.

What do you do?

Currently, I’m working at an art store, a museum, and with an art consultant in addition to trying to maintain my own studio practice. I recently finished my undergraduate education at the Rhode Island School of Design and after moving back I wanted to immerse myself in D.C. arts. Having all these different jobs really helps me keep on top of things that are happening.

Being Nosey:

What medium do you do your work best in? Is there a medium that you aspire to work in?

In the past couple years I’ve been experimenting with printmaking practices, photography and embroidery. I’ve been using the three fairly equally and combining them where I can. What ties them all together is my use of fabric which I use to print on, embellish with thread, and can transform into a sculptural object. Fabric simply allows for a lot experimentation and as someone that prefers object versus image making I feel that even when I’m printing an image, it immediately becomes something that can be interacted with.

I’m hoping to learn silkscreen processes soon. I’m interested in creating more large scale works and I’ve always been interested in pattern making. Silkscreen would help in achieving both.

Tell us about your heritage, is there any part of it that inspires the art that you do?

My heritage, my family and our collective origins are the basis for my work. My father’s parents were born in Jamaica and Costa Rica and are of African descent while my mother’s parents were born in the U.S. and are of Scots-Irish and Norwegian descent. Growing up, none of the cultures were really represented to me in any significant way but I was always aware of them, wanted to know more about them and incorporate familial traditions into our day to day lives. As I’ve gotten older I’ve collected more information, both through academic research and oral history, and all combine into themes and ideas that I represent in my work.

At present I’m concerned with those who regard themselves as ones of a displaced identity and how they idealize their homelands for better or for worse. I’m also in the process of conducting a project in which I ask my father to create an image of his choosing which I then carve into linoleum, print onto fabric, and embroider over. It’s a collaboration that I feel acts as evidence for ways in which his own worldview has influenced mine. It’s interesting to see ways in which he creates images that are either to satisfy himself or are meant to be entertaining for me and vice versa.

If you could be anywhere else on the planet where would you be and why?

If I could be anywhere else, I would like to be in Jamaica. I’ve been to the country before but have not been able to explore it much beyond its beaches. For me, Jamaica is that idealized homeland. I am trying to spend this year creating work that operates in reaction to how I view the country as an outsider and I’m hoping to return so that I can then spend time learning more about my family and to see how experiencing the place for myself has its influences on the work that I make.

What are your top three most played songs at the moment?

Top three songs most played are Babylon by SZA, untitled 02 | 06.23.2014 by Kendrick Lamar, and Hold Up by Beyonce.

Do you have a favorite artistic movement? Favorite work of literature? How do they influence the work that you do?

I don’t have a favorite art movement in particular, but literature has a significant influence on my work. Right now, an important read for me is Emily Raboteau’s Searching for Zion. Within this work the author travels to several different countries, all connected with the African Diaspora, and all proclaimed realms of Zion for the immigrants who have found themselves there. Yet each place has its disappointments and failings that Raboteau never expects to address.

I’m also very tied to work by Marlon James as well as Gabriel Garcia Marquez. James does a wonderful job at both revealing tragic realities in Jamaica yet at the same time is able to break down the stigmas and stereotypes of the country’s inhabitants. Garcia Marquez, in his own subtle way, in the midst of magic and tragic love stories, enlightens readers to the cultural misunderstandings that occur between the European, African, and indigenous characters that reside within South America.

Which animal do find yourself the most similar to? Why?

Perhaps a morning dove. They’re calm, tend towards companionship, but can be flighty.

What is your mantra (motto)?

Whatever struggles you’re facing, think of all that you’ve overcome, and remember you can persevere.

*Make sure to follow Alanna on instagram at alanna_reeves_art and check out her website:, also make sure to stay tuned to Culture Out The Box for your daily dose of arts, culture and maddening things*


Coco & Phatz

DSC_0430 copy

DSC_0429 (1) copy

*Embroidery by Alanna Reeves*

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