Arista Alanis

Artist Statement

“The gestural paintings derive from the landscape. The paintings move back and forth between  figurative landscape and abstraction.  

I paint intuitively; memories and emotions are inspired by my experiences of seasons in  Vermont, the coast of Maine, mountain biking with my nephew in Costa Rica, and other travels  with my sister and family. Despite this, my work is not a direct representation of such things.  Rather, they are abstractions where light and color create a sense of place, a feeling, in which  the sensation or mood about my encounters with the natural environment are conveyed. The  artwork is not about specific places but about significant moments that ignite a feeling of being  alive in the space. The formal structures of nature that are directly experienced or recalled give  my work the solid foundation upon which I improvise abstractions. Through this, many  emotional layers are painted, resulting in a completed image that leads me to the next painting.  An ongoing cycle that, for me, will never end. 

Primarily I use oil paint on canvas to express my emotions and sensations drawn from  memories and the subconscious. From this, feelings come forth, allowing for the creation of  space. An intense range of emotions slowly appears depending on the mood, sounds, memories, and energy at that moment which follows complete intuition. What comes forth  may be joy, anger, sorrow, fear, or an image formed from bits and pieces of a memory, a  moment of delight, or a beloved one in my heart. 

I have been focusing on a series of monoprint sketches titled “Aegean Sea.” Evoking moments  of my most recent travels to Greece with my sister and niece. I plan to incorporate this series in  an exhibition along with a book of prints. I am very excited to see how these memories and  experiences find their way into my future large-scale oil on canvas paintings.”

-Arista Alanis

From The Art Editor

Arista’s paintings are like fireworks, 100-year rare wildflower boom colorfields, and deconstructed rainbows, or rainbows forming and unforming themselves. Their color hits you first; highly saturated, bright, pure hues which alternate between thick impasto and smooth stencil. But the color isn’t a one-off trick; the woven complexity of the landscapes and gestural spaces create a spatial reasoning that can transport or recalibrate, the longer one sits with them. The constantly reiterated and echoed dramas and shapes of her visual language are like that of poetry and story, whose repetition of theme or rhyme can comfort (or challenge), yet it is possible to return to them, over and over again as we do, to find ways to see things anew, or appreciate novel nuance. 

Her invigorating paper and canvas surfaces packed with the makings of the rainbow are somehow still peaceful, just as the rainbows and azure Aegean sea of her source material appear. Out of time, but specific and grounded in an experience of place, her work offers matter-of-fact verve and wildness. We are so grateful to have her works in our pages, this issue.

-Candace Jensen

About the Artist


Arista Alanis is a third-generation Mexican American. She spent most of her youth growing up in the suburbs of Houston, Texas where she enjoyed spending summers at the local swimming pool while also going on family vacations to South Padre Island. Alanis earned an MFA from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, and a BFA from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, TX. Her artwork has been exhibited nationally since 1989. Most recently, her paintings were shown in Mountain at Collioure, organized by Jared Quinton, and in 2019 in Made in Vermont, at the Hall Art Foundation. In addition, Alanis’ artwork is part of many private and public collections. In 1995 she joined the Vermont Studio Center staff and has been the School Arts Coordinator in partnership with Johnson Elementary School for the past twenty years. The artist lives in Vermont and spends her time painting, teaching, and running.

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