Alicia Escott: Artist

Spotted: The Sunset, San Francisco

What are you up to today?
I'm an artist and I have a studio here in the Outer Sunset. I'm working on stuff but just took a break to write some thank-you cards to people who have participated in a project I'm working on.

What kind of work do you do?
I work across mediums, but I deal with a lot of issues around species loss and what it's like to be alive right now in this period of climate change and rapid change.

What inspired you do go in that direction?
Maybe a deep heartache? I don't know! [laughs] I've been doing it for a long time.

How did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
Being an artist is never easy and I'm never sure that I want to be doing it, but I keep doing it and starting new projects.

So what was the project that you were thanking everyone for?
I have a studio out here in which I make drawings and work in a lot of different ways, but I'm currently working on a collaboration with another artist and we're bringing people together and giving them the chance to talk about things that are happening in their lives related to climate change or species extinction or other widespread changes. We're called the Bureau of Linguistical Reality, and it takes its name from the idea of linguistic relativity, which is the idea that a language is the way that we think. So if we don't have the words to describe an emotion or an experience, we can't fully wrap our heads around it or fully conceptualize an idea. So we're giving people the chance to make those words.

A patch for Alicia's collaborative project, The Bureau of Linguistical Reality

What are some interesting words that people have come up with so far?
Some words that have come up are: "psychic corpus dissonance" which is the experience when you're on the beach out here and it's gorgeous and you're like totally blissed out, but you're also very aware that it shouldn't be like that and that it should be foggy because it's the wrong time of year, you know? [laughs] And your mind's going a million miles an hour. And we have some synonyms that have come up for that term because I think a lot of people in San Francisco are experiencing that. So the synonyms have been "blissonance" and "schadenfebruary." Like from schadenfreude, but in February. [laughs] Gabriel Harp, one of our people, came up with the word "gwilt." Which is when you're feeling guilty because you're not watering your plants. [Pointing at an outdoor sidewalk planter with some wilting flowers and greenery] Those guys over there have gwilt. But if you water them, then you feel guilty because we're in a drought.

What are some things that have inspired you lately?
The ocean. I would say that's a huge inspiration. I've been trying to create a little bit more time right now and that's very inspiring.

So more time for yourself, like quiet time?
Well, I'm having a rare moment where I'm able to work full-time on art. Who knows how long that will last, fingers crossed — but that's exciting.

So making the most of your time while you have it.
Yeah, I'm creating space.

What are some of the places that you love to go in San Francisco?
My favorite place is out here.

Out in the Sunset?
Yeah, although it's very foggy, it's terrible out here, don't come! [laughs]. But yeah, I love having my studio here and being close to the ocean.

So you've been out here for a while?
Mmm hmm, I've had a studio out here for 3-4 years. Before that I was in the Mission.

Alicia, looking comfortable and ready to work

I wanted to ask you about what inspires your personal style.
This is studio garb.

This scarf is interesting. It looks almost Keith Haring-like.
Yes! It is very Keith Haring. It's not related to him — it's by Made on the Moon.

Are they local?
They're Portland-based. I call it my mustard and ketchup scarf. I used to work at a boutique called Aggregate Supply and that's where that's from.

This patchwork sweater is really cool with the velvet patches.
I've had this for 10 years.

Wow! I like that honeycomb pattern.
I do, too. And this is something that I keep in my studio. When my mom first gave this shirt to me and it was actually white and very see-through. I have this great new studio-mate whose name is Meredith Byron, and she helped me dye it with a turmeric dye. We did that like two days ago. Isn't that great? But yeah, I'm very much in studio garb. The clogs are from Aggregate Supply as well. The hat is just to keep the sun out. I'm very glad hats are back in style. 

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