creatives, it was natural for Allegra Gibson to dedicate much of her life to the visual arts. After earning her BFA at the SF Art Institute, she continued her studies at the California College of Arts where she earned a MFA in 2006. Along the way, she’s studied yoga in India, traveled abroad to Israel, trekked in Cambodia, vacationed in Thailand, surfed in Bali and visited the Prado in Spain, experiences which all inform her work. Back at home in Marin, she’s refocused her attention on drawing and painting. Working mostly abstractly, and continuing to explore her interest in using ink pours and shiny objects ('bling'), she recently began animating a character she developed at CCA, Pukie Pooh. With a painting up at the Marin Civic Center as part of The Marin Arts Council members’ show through February 1, as well as a revamped website, Allegra talked to me about her plans for Pukie.
Q: Tell me about Pukie. Who is he? Or she?
AG: I call Pukie 'he' but it's a she. [Pokies’] not really sexed. It’s more based on emotionality; he/she’s an emotional character.
AG: Because Pukie is so abject to the surroundings. He/she's an 'other' character, an alien, always trying to assimilate experience and surroundings. But because he/she can't assimilate so he/she expels it. He/she's kind of disgusted with what he/she finds. I'm exploring desire and repulsion.
Q: Why do you think you choose these themes?
AG: It's about exploring social norms you're trying to integrate with and how it just doesn't always work. I think culture can be corporate-generic. Like I use a lot of handbags, exploring consumerism. I'm turning socially acceptable behavior on its head.
Q: How is animating Pukie different?
AG: Animation gives [Pukie] a three-dimensional, real-time aspect. Instead of making 30-second drawings, it's a 30-second narrative. The drawings can be interpreted many different ways depending on how you put them on the way. The animation is more direct. It's a first attempt at demonstrating his/her behavior.
Q: Did it lead you anywhere different or surprising?
AG: It was fun finishing the project, but animation was a lot of work. You have to construct every movement. ...I want to make different episodes, "a day in the life." I think people are really attracting to moving images. I love "Family Guy" and all those shows. This video is about introducing Pukie Pooh. He drinks 'ghetto beer' and then [expels] up the painting. It's surrealistic.
Q: Who influences you?
AG: Definitely Goya black paintings and Dali. The "Mission School" artists like Chris Johanson. I like his use of characters, which are completely irreverent, and how he glorifies them. And his use of color and 2D.
Q: What’s next?
AG: I’m going to continue with the animations. Projecting them as a larger-than-life character is interesting. I've been drawing caves, looking at demons of the underworld. I had this dream last night, where I was on top of a waterfall and I couldn't see over it so I jumped in. I was totally fine. So I think something new is coming, I’m not sure what. I’m going to make some physical drawings of Pukie surfing, [for now]. It’s a leap of faith.