Lisa Alembik 

Artistic moonlighting

Like many artists, Lisa Alembik leads a double life. By day, Alembik is director of the Dalton Gallery at Agnes Scott College in Decatur. By night, she makes art in a variety of media that shows up in places like Eyedrum and MOCA GA. Alembik recently spent lots of time with ink and black paint for a show of new work at Spruill Gallery. Solace closes Sept. 6.

What type of work are you showing at Spruill?

It's drawing and painting. There are small oil paintings, 108 of them that are 9" x 12" across the small room, and then in the room next to it I have seven larger drawings that are different kinds of inks with different blacks: mars and ivory black.

What are the drawings of?

What I've done was collect ... images of different kinds of architectural settings that speak to me somehow. For some reason I've gotten really into these images of Belgium. Old churches. And I'm also using photographs that my grandfather took. Before World War II he was a photographer in Warsaw, and he escaped and went to Bolivia and one of the few things we have are his photographs. So I've been ... taking images of pre-World War II buildings and I'm combining them with buildings from Afghanistan and Iraq. And it's kind of talking about how history repeats, history folds into itself, and how architecture holds history. [I'm] calling it the "Architecture of Intimacy." What happens within those walls?

That seems to be particularly relevant in Atlanta with its contested architecture. Was any of that at play?

I'm a native, and so many parts of Atlanta don't look like they did when I was a girl, which is OK to have progress. But you know when you are on North Avenue and Peachtree and there's that big empty hole ... It's just this strange place to live in when things continuously change.

Why does it make sense to have your work there with [fellow artist] Albino Mattioli's?

Both of us have a real strong sense of drawing and line. We both have a very emotional line that we depend on to express ourselves. We both live in our imaginations a lot.

How do you balance being both an artist and a gallery director?

It's tough. I have a real strict set of rules that I try to live by so that the twain don't meet. I never curate myself into an exhibit. I try to make sure that I spend enough time on both because really my true occupation is being an artist, and I have to be careful not to forget about that. But it's difficult when you work 60 hours a week at your job to find the time to do it. I have to stay really focused and that means that social situations don't allow me to maintain that focus. And that's the one thing that's gone.

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