Weaving, Dance, Installation to be performed May 2014, Brattleboro Vermont

Schematic Studies This work  engages a community of people to weave strands of ribbon around trees or poles to make a series of large-scale textile installations. Expanding and radically transforming  the concept of the maypole dance, this work builds on my installations made of hand- crocheted rope and adds the potential for choreographed movement. This piece is both a performance and a work of visual art.

My goal is to create striking tapered forms with varying graphic patterns. I want to make these works in series so it is important that I can vary the weaving technique to create a range of formal qualities. I intend to create a number of works for different venues.

Receive Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant

Hurray! I am thrilled to have support from the Vermont arts council for an innovative installation I am developing. This installation radically transforms the concept of the  maypole dance...a group of people use a movement system  to perform/construct a series of large outdoor textile installations. The Brattleboro Museum will present the work -likely in spring 2014.

here is a design/sketch (very rough) of what one such construction might look like.

tree weaving double layer 2

My installation "Soledad" created in response to a poem by Miriam Sagan Opens May 26th at 516 Arts Albuquerque NM

Soledad is one of 2 installations based on poems by Miriam Sagan in the exhibit "Time Pieces: Wendover Landing". The exhibit remains up through August 11, 2012. Soledad is made of  ripstop nylon, wood dowels, ribbon and steel. The images presented below  include studio shots taken  during fabrication and a photoshop image of the installation as it will look in the gallery. I will install the work in the week between May 21st and may 26th.

I plan to attend the opening so say hello if you happen to be there.

Time Pieces_invite_web

Miriam Sagan's poem:


reading in bed

in the little trailer

at the edge of town

a crescent moon


over millions of acres

of darkness

desert sunrise--

Venus, burnished...

and everything

I don't understand

and all of


rolls towards me

like the waves

of a primeval sea.

My artist's statement:

I created the installation “Soledad” in direct response to the poem by Miriam Sagan. I read Sagan’s poem looking for imagery, dualities, and contrasts in the text that could guide my search for a visual approach to the installation. I noticed the expanding scale in the poem – text, bed, trailer, town, millions of acres, Venus, all of desire- and I expressed this idea with the chevron form of the wall pieces and their enlarging size as they are distributed across the wall. I noticed the transition in Sagan’s imagery from darkness towards light and from the earthly realm of human enclosure and habitation towards allusions to the celestial and distant time. The presence of a text -implied by the phrase “reading in bed”- occupies in the poem the grounded real of human settlement as the reader is nested within the bed, trailer, and town. I have therefore incised the text of the poem on dark steel bars – a material that has weight and that is associated with buildings. The white fabric wall forms suggest the celestial realm, the coming of day and the imagined waves of the “primordial sea”. These stretched fabric forms blend into the white of the gallery wall, a wall that can be understood as a metaphor for the infinite space and potential of the creative imagination, which includes for me “everything I don’t understand” and  “all of desire”. The fabrics forms are pulled taught and are anchored to the floor by ribbons that connect them to the steel bars. As there is a functional and formal connection between the grounded steel text elements and the floating light forms of the fabric, so too I imagine delicate threads connecting the reader to their thoughts of celestial bodies, the coming of day, primordial times, their emotions and their imagination.

I approached the fabrication of the installation by using materials and methods that were new to me. This installation is made of rip-stop nylon, birch dowels, grommets, ribbon and steel. The chevron forms are very lightweight tensile structures influenced by tent and kite construction. The constraints presented by “Soledad” - the distance of Albuquerque from my studio in Vermont, the limited shipping budget, limited time on site to install and the limited loads that the gallery ceiling could support- pushed me to make an installation that is lightweight, collapses for shipping and can be deployed relatively quickly. Because of my experience in architecture, I think about how fabrication and construction influence form and how the constraints of a project - site, budget, shipping, logistics, time, available labor - can serve to inspire and stir up a creative process rather than undermine it.

Photos of "Surface Tension" and "Points of View" as installed at BCA Center, Burlington VT

These images  are of two recent installations of mine created for a solo show in Burlington Vermont that was in place January and February of 2011. Ken Burris did a terrific job of photographing these two room size installations. The black crocheted piece is called “Surface Tension” and is made of over 20,000 ft of hand crocheted black rope. The conical forms are supported via a counterweight system, crocheted sacks loaded with river stones. The room in which this piece is sited is approximately 26′ X 36′ X 10′ .

The Bamboo and reflective tape  artwork is titled “Points of View”. Blue reflective tape was mounted at level on a scaffold of bamboo tetrahedrons. This work alludes to the way water finds its own level and to our human tendency to impose order on a landscape. Visitors to this installation were given headlamps with which to view the work.

My sculpture in "Hello from Vermont" exhibition at Gallerie Maison Kasini, Montreal

One of My suspended crocheted sculptures "Taper with Counterweight" , will be in an upcoming show from Feb 9 to  March 5 at Gallerie Maison Kasini in the Belgo Building,  #408 372 Ste. Catherine West , Montreal, Quebec  514-448-4723  . The opening Reception is Saturday February 12th from 3-5 pm. This exhibition is curated by Ric Kasini Kadour. See link at right of page to Gallerie Maison Kasini.

BCA show complete! opening reception friday 5-8 pm , jan 14th, 2011

I'm done! Just finished up yesterday afternoon. We added reflective tape to posts and trees in city hall park, extending the "shimmering blue  waterline" in my installation "Points of View"  out into the great landscape beyond the gallery walls. The lighting and final labeling  of the show will be completed by the Gallery staff  this week. Keep in mind that the photos posted here are quick shots taken by me at the end of a long day without finished lighting. I include below the content of  a review of my work written by my friend Andy Sichel, artist and  a former professor of art at Rutger's University.He very generously surprised me with this a couple of days ago,  sending his remarks out via e-mail to his community.

I have watched my brilliant friend Alisa's work as a sculptor and draftswoman evolve and mature over more than a decade now and I wanted to share this with you all.

Her work is informed by her feminist consciousness, her "day jobs" as a Yale trained architect,  teacher at Norwich University (VT) and as the mother of two quickly growing children.

Alisa's work melds a thorough and considered understanding of art history with the tenacity of sticking with an initially wise and equally considered choice of "art parents" whom I see as extending from Shamanism through the Artisanal and site specific works of the middle ages, the Utopian visionary, architecturally schooled sculptors and painters of the High Renaissance and Mannerist periods into Dada and Surrealism, the Bio-morphism of Archile Gorky/ Abstract Impressionism, early Modernist architecture (and Meret Oppenheim) ,and the obvious continuing thread of her visually acknowledged Feminist and late Modernist "mother" Eva Hesse, whose mere five year tragically abbreviated career staked fervent ground for many lesser and some (older) peer women sculptors like Jacquie Windsor whose work because of its materials and apparent lack of feminist content is sometimes seen as at odds with more avowedly feminist work like Judy Chicago's Dinner Party.

However as women artists continue to be hugely under-represented it seems to me that any woman artist who manages to be seen and acknowledged becomes "Feminist" by virtue of being available as a model of a still marginalized minority. Dworsky's crocheted rope sculptures are certainly per se more avowedly feminist than Louise Bopurgeois' or  Alice Aycock's  work yet their process and scale share the more traditionally "male" muscularity of these more celebrated women artists. Alisa's sculpture has in the past decade spoken to art's role in relation to architecture and/or environment and I'm particularly impressed with the maturation of the crucial component of a cognitive and affective personal visual/conceptual vocabulary in her work. This is what elevates innovative good art, which nominally contributes to the ongoing contemporary art/philosophy discourse (which is sometimes a lot of noise) to art which whilst doing that, echoes above the clamor to a sustained intriguing and ultimately mysterious conversation which is not happening with the intent of an elitist mystification but which invites us in, as with Joseph Cornell's work, and transcends the nuts and bolts de rigeur covered bases to, with luck, become part of the larger enduring historical discourse.

Please share this around!

Best to you and Brava Alisa!


(Andy Sichel)



The installation of my solo show at BCA is almost complete!

I'm exausted but pleased with how the onsite installation phase of my show at the Burlington City Arts is going. "Surface Tension" went up in a day and half. Meanwhile I've been working with 2-4 assistants at a time to construct "Points of View. The images posted here are rough, no great lighting, still work to do but they will give you a sense  of how everything is developing. Remember the opening reception is friday January 14, 5-8 pm. The doors to the show open january 7th at 5 pm. Click the BCA center  link to the right for more info on the location and gallery. See earlier postings about this show for more info.

"Alisa Dworsky: Drawing Strength" opens Friday Jan 7, reception Jan 14 5-8pm

I start installing two new installations and a suite of new prints on January 2nd for my upcoing solo show at the BCA Center ( formerly the Firehouse Gallery), 135 Church street, Burlington VT. See my earlier posts to view these works in progress. " In the exhibit “Drawing Strength”, artist and architectural designer,  Alisa Dworsky, presents prints  and installations. Drawing is at the basis of all the work presented here including the installations. Dworsky intentionally selects linear materials  ( here rope and bamboo)  for her constructions, materials she manipulates to express drawing in three dimensions while defining  space and form. The artist continues her investigation into the ways that human beings interact with the landscape, particularly our compulsion to impose geometric systems on the spaces we occupy. She presents prosaic materials in unusual ways, draws inspiration from architecture and construction, and provokes the viewer to reexamine the way they see their everyday world.  Dworsky uses her art to explore the ambiguity of perception."

Surface Tension, in process in my studio

Miriam Sagan Interviews me about my work. See text below.


1. What is you personal/aesthetic relationship to the line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.?

The line is at the basis of all of my work: architecture,  printmaking, installation and of course drawings. In architecture when we first conceive of a solid building we explore it’s potential with sketches. As the building design develops  we explain our specific  ideas for this  solid three dimensional structure through  a set of construction documents;  a  series of drawings, slices,  differing views, all constructed of lines.  In construction we start again with the line as we lay out the footprint of the building’s foundation, stretching nylon cord between wooden stakes. I think of a building as the slow accretion and layering of lines , so dense and full of information that eventually a solid form takes shape.

So, I see lines everywhere even within seemingly solid forms. My drawings describe volumes but the character and insistence of the line is always paramount. The crocheted installations, some dense, some netted and open, follow from these drawings. What I love about crochet is that my material is a line, a length of rope, which I shape and knot and transform into something three dimensional. I feel like I’m drawing even though I’m working in three dimensions. The most recent crocheted work uses a fillet crochet technique associated with the making of lace. I can make open cells of different sizes, a complex netted structure in which the character of the negative space between the crocheted lines is as important as the lines themselves. Also of interest to me in these works is how a load, in essence the weight of the work, is transferred through these lines as the work hangs suspended in a space or from a building. This weight and the counteracting forces put the line into a state of what architects and engineers call “tension”, and in tension a strong material with a very small cross section can support a great deal of weight. In other words using a line is a far more efficient way of supporting a structure than piling material on material to build a compressive wall or column. So I love how efficient a line is both literally and figuratively.

I have developed a new set of prints titled “Fine Cord”. Here I use a literal line, a length of fine nylon, to make the mark in the prints. The texture and character of this cord is transferred to the metal plates  with a soft ground technique.  I enjoy the layering of perception required when viewing these prints; one sees an abstract graphic line and a literal , represented line,  simultaneously. By layering multiple plates, multiple registrations, a mass of color and texture is built up into an image that some have likened to plant forms.

The other thing about line is that it embodies movement. When we draw a line, we draw in a direction, our body moves and the line is a record of this movement. I think living in a rural area, I’m particularly attuned to the movement in the landscape:  the wind blowing the bare November branches, the snow swirling in funnel forms in a storm, the braided shifting surface of water. The very basic understanding revealed to us through quantum physics is that in all matter there is movement. 2. Do you find a relationship between sculpture/installation/drawing and the human body? Or between your art and your body?

About 13 years ago I spent a few weeks at an artist’s recidency in Vermont where I had access every day to  a figure drawing session with a model. So I started drawing the figure again after what had been a long hiatus. I drew the figure in a way that  was new for me; instead of drawings the outlines I saw, I modeled the figure as  one might model a landscape in a topographical map or a computer drawing. I defined the figure through a series a wrapped contour lines . This experience blurred the distinction for me between landscape and figure and these figure drawings directly influenced my current abstract forms.

3. Is there anything you dislike about being an artist?

What I find most difficult and most liberating is that as an artist I must define for myself what I consider success in my work. I’ve experienced many an ah ha moment, moments of clarity, when I know that I have had a breakthrough, an idea for new work or the satisfaction that a completed work has attained all that I might have hoped for it. Those are very pleasurable moments. But there are many other moments when it is easy to doubt ones endeavors, to question the ultimate importance or reason for doing what I do. I wish I could be spared that doubt but stubbornly and with a bit of mischief I continue because I love to define a problem for myself, to follow a path of discovery that is completely non-utilitarian, not a building, not useful in any particular way except that it might affect how people see the world. The freedom that comes from being an artist is very hard to live with but is also indispensable.

"Alisa Dworsky: Drawing Strength" opens on Jan 7, 2011 at BCA Center, Burlington VT

The opening reception will be Friday January 14th from 5-8 pm. I'll give an informal artist's talk  at 5 pm that night. Stop by if you are in the area.  I will also try to be around for the Friday January 7th soft opening during friday night art walk in Burlington. The title of my show alludes to the influence of drawing on this new body of work  ( even though there are no drawings in this show) and the title alludes  to the efficient systems of structural support used in these pieces. All the time I've spent building and designing structures has inevitably  had an impact on my art. I consider these new installations a continuation of my "landscape" works . Instead of responding to a landscape outdoors,  I am building a couple of landscapes within the Gallery walls. The installations evolved from my continuing interest  in  the  human tendency to overlay the landscape with geometric systems in an effort to impose order . I enjoy  the  "Middle Ground" that Leo Marx speaks of in his great book, The Machine in the Garden. This middle ground  moment occurs  when culture and nature exert  an equal force on a place , each shaping the other in an aesthetic of  coexistence which Marx speaks of as the true definition of the  pastoral.

I've been crocheting in the past few weeks as I prepare "Surface Tension" for the front Gallery on Church Street. There will be a counterweight system supporting it and I have work to do connecting the elements with more crochet at the floor level. It's coming along. I'm using a "Fillet Crochet " technique to make a cellular pattern. I vary the size of the 'cell" creating subtle tonal shifts in the work. I like this approach because the piece is so graphic, the line quality so evident with this play of positive and negative space at my disposal.  I could almost  write binary code with this technique. Of course the open cells and radiating lines and grids also remind me of computer drawings. The handmade and the digital all wrapped up . I  do use computer graphics as well as hand drawing to rough out the shapes and general approach to the installation.

Also in the slide show are a few details of  the second installation which will be in the show  titled " Points of View". This work is made of poles configured in a web of tetrahedrons on which reflective blue tape is mounted in fragments at a level, creating a tenuous shimmering plane . The hidden order within this "landscape" is only visible from a certain point of view.


Thank you to the Vermont Community Foundation, Arts Endowment Fund for the grant which supported the creation of this new work.

Soft Ground Prints in upcoming exhibit at BCA Center

This is a small selection from an ongoing series of  prints. these impressions were  created over the summer. I use a soft ground technique to transfer the texture and shape of a fine nylon cord to the zinc plate. I create a family of intaglio metal plates  which I ink and use in various combination, reusing plates to make "Ghost images" and take advantage of offset images. Each print is made with multiple registrations. Final images are 9" x 9" on  19" x 15" paper. Each print is unique. [slideshow]

Installations in Process for upcoming solo show, Firehouse Gallery, Burlington, VT

I am creating 2 new installations for this  upcoming show at the Firehouse Gallery, opening friday January 14, 2011. I Consider both installatiosn to be three dimensional drawings. Each piece presents an ambiguity and play between the two dimensional and three dimensional realms. The images shown below are schematic drawings and studies which I have done in preparation for creating the final works.

The first installation titled " Surface Tension" will be made of over 18,000 ft of hand crocheted polyester rope. A series of counterweights, crochted sacks filled with river stones, are connected to the piece with a  rope and pulley system, thereby raising the work off the floor to create a topographical  surface.


The second installation, " Points of View" is made of  a series of poles (painted with white stripes)  that are connected to each other  to create  a matrix of tetrahedrons that will fill the gallery space . With the use of a water level,  pieces of blue reflective tape are mounted on this armature at level. A horizontal datum is established at approximately 5 feet above grade. When viewed from below or above no particular order will be apparent  as to how this tape is positioned yet at a certain view point a level line within this interior landscape will be revealed to the viewer. The work will be lit  by the viewer them-self, wearing a headlamp. The  viewer with headlamp will activate a glow in  the reflective tape while someone standing beside them will not see this phenomenon as their line of sight will not exactly correspond to the trajectory of the lighting source.



NAVE Gallery exhibit opens

My drawings will be in a three person show at the NAVE Gallery in Sommerville. Note that the official opening is Thursday, July 8th, 6-8 pm,  but if you attend the Jazz concert  at NAVE on June 27th  at 3pm you can get a preview of the show. The other artists in the show are Ron Brunelle showing paintings and Kathleen Finlay with an installation.  My friend, Paul Kafka-Gibbons will be performing  with his group  " Skinny Emu", an improvisational music-dance-spoken word quartet featuring Paul, Joe Burgio, Andrew Eisenberg and Josh Jefferson. Look for them at 8pm the evening of the opening July 8th. FREE to all. for more info www.navegallery.org (see link on my blogroll). Gallery open Fri 6-8 pm, Sat & Sunday 1-5 pm . Nave Gallery, Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church, 155 Powderhouse BLV, Sommerville, MA

"InTension" in the Fabrications exhibit, Newport Mills, NH

My installation, "InTension" , which I exhibited  two years ago at the Brattleboro Museum, has been remounted in the exhibit "Fabrications" sponsored by Cynthia Reeves Projects. My work is now part of a very large  exhibition  of works by 19 artists from around the world which occupies the enormous 3rd floor of the Newport Mills in Newport NH. This should be a great show worth traveling for. I myself can't wait to see the other works installed in the space. Visit the link to "fabrications" on my blogroll and check back frequently as the website is evolving as the show comes together. The origonal installation of "InTension" was funded by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the Brattleboro Museum. It's great to see it on exhibit again and this time I took advantage of the great amount of space at the Mill to play with the presentation of the piece....partricularly the placement of the counterweights.

This work is made of nearly 5 miles of handcrocheted polyester rope, river stones and pulleys. The ten "counterweights" support the crocheted enclosure. Ten strands of rope that run from the top of the enclosure, each through  two pulleys to a counterweight  a distance away.

My thanks to Cynthia Reeves and her staff,  Azariah Aker, Anzell Jordon, Sara Mintz, and my assistant Matthew Sargent, for all their help. My deepest gratitude to my husband, Danny, and daughters, Leah and Sonya, who have supported me all along.

Transfer/Transform at The Bennington Museum

My installation, "Tranfer/Transform" went up  at the Bennington Museum last week. It will remain on view through October 31st, 2010 as part of the " State of Craft" exhibit at the Museum.  Here are some of the photos of the Completed project. Please see my entry  on April 4 for text explaining the project.Please see my entry on May 12 for images of the project going up. I have attached a link to the Museum website on my "blogroll". See the slide show below for more images. [slideshow]

Putting up Transfer/Transform at the Bennington Museum

These images are of the process of  completing my installation on site over 2 days, May 10 and May 11.  There were many helpers who jumped in at critical moments  including Jamie Franklin (curator of the Bennington Museum), Tom Moriarity ( head of grounds and maintenance and problem solver extraordinaire), Meg Ostrom  ( curator and  part of the state of craft team),  Allie Lees (Bennington  College student and assistant), Cherie Pfeiffer (Castleton College art student and assistant) and a number of other staff who came outside and helped lift the piece into place. Also my thanks to Anne Majusiak, (co-curator of the State of Craft exhibit) and Steven Perkins(director of the Museum). Thanks also to Don and Bettenelle Miller who gave me a home away from home and fed me so well while I was in Bennington.  And then of course there are the folks who helped to  fund  my work such as the Vermont  Arts Council, The National Endowment for the Arts and the very generous contribution from  E. Candace Forsythe to the museum on behalf of this project. I am so grateful to you all! check out this slideshow of images.


Bennington Museum Installation

Bennington Museum Schematic Design This is a preparatory "Drawing" for an installation that I am currently fabricating in my studio. The final piece will be made of approximately 15,000 feet of  hand crocheted black rope. I am working with 1/4" polyester rope which I manipulate using an oversized hand made crochet hook. In mid  May I'll take my work down to Bennington and over a few days we will wrap the column with my prefabricated sheath and then I'll stitch it up the back side.I will also complete the last few feet of crocheting on site as I expand the  crocheted form to drape on the ground at the base of the column.  All this with the help of some able assistants , a lift and a ladder.

One goal is to have an impact on the facade of the building, to undermine the established symmetry of the columns at the Museum entrance. I am interested in how a work of art can interface  with it's architectural context and potentially transform or amplify the reading of  structure. I  am aware that I bring a traditionally "female" art form to  the transformation of  a neoclassical column , a column  that interestingly blends both the male iconography of the Doric column with the female iconography of the Ionic.  The netlike materiality of this piece may suggest the openwork of a fishnet stocking  or a fishermans net while the choice of black material picks up on  the ironwork throughout that courtyard and the facade.  The gradient pattern ,  which darkens at the base of the work,   emphasizes the  heavy loads bearing down on the column from the Museum's roof  and how these loads are  transfered to the support of the ground plane/ foundation. This approach is inspired by an early warehouse design by the architects Herzog and de Meuron.

The opening is May 22, 2010 and coincides with the opening of the exhibit "The State of Craft". The installation will remain up until November 4, 2010.

Bennington project in process

Here are some process photos of my installation for the Bennnington Museum. First I calculated the form  that wraps the column as a flat shape and then lay it out, full scale, on my studio floor. Then I begin crocheting, using the "fillet Crochet" technique and varying the size of these crocheted cells  to create a gradiant from light to dark. I started with 20  cells across which correspond to the  20 flutes on the column that this will wrap.