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Alyssa Eustaquio: Sculptor/Feminist Artist

1.  Do you consider yourself a feminist first and an artist second or the reverse?
I like to think of identity being multifaceted.  Being a feminist and being an artists are two parts of my identity, and the feminist in me always has a say in my work, and my creative making side always has a role in the expression of my feminist ideas.  

Surrounded by her past art projects Eustaquio celebrates her femininity and the beauty within every girl of every age while creating art through power tools, metal casting and using as much pink as she can in her art.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Swiss Army Classic Design, The Marie Stopes Edition, Mixed media.  Swiss Army Classic Design pocket knife and brazed metal. 3 x 3 ½ x  ¾” 2012, Photo © Aimee Santos

2.  Why does the color pink flow through your pieces?  What do you feel it represents?
I love the color pink.  Pink has so much power.  Looking at its history and how its has become so gendered and associated with girls is always interesting.  I love playing with those preconceptions of pink being soft, docile, submissive or even ditzy and plastic.  Currently, pink is the perfect color for my feminist charged work because, it is unassumingly feminist.   

The creation of her own feminist beauty line spearheaded a new way of approaching impressionable young girls with self-empowerment titled lipsticks and beauty projects.  Photo © Aimee Santos

3.  If a young girl lost in the world of consumer culture and high school drama were to see one of your pieces, which one would it be and what message would you hope she came away with?
The body of work that I am currently working on is Au Courrant, Facing Feminism.  I use makeup as the operating system to talk about feminism.  In the installation I have recreated a beauty counter like you would find at a department store or a specialty beauty store but the makeup is infused with my own personal theories  about feminism, femininity and empowerment.  Alongside the objects the installation is completed with a supplementary performance of me providing consultations to young girls about makeup and feminism.  I often refer to this body of work as a letter to my thirteen year old self.  I was very much only interested in makeup, clothes and boys as a thirteen year old.  I would have loved it if subversively I was fed feminist theory and empowerment.  
But if I had to pick a specific piece from that installation it would have to be the free sample lip balm that I had distributed to the participants who came in for a consultation.  As I was conceptualizing this work, I kept in mind how to continue and spread the feminist discourse, started within the installation, to beyond gallery.  The lip balm, Feminism, Spread the Word is a sheer, pearlescent pink, and cupcake frosting flavored.  The piece in of itself operates as a discrete object, and embodies the idea of unassumingly feminist.  
I picture young girls using this lip balm as a part of their beauty routine, their friends asking about it and sharing their ideas about womanhood and empowerment.   

Eustaquio's studio resides amidst a metalworks foundry that allows all who enter the opportunity to discover the three dimensional artist within themselves.  Photo © Aimee Santos

4.  Is there a material you are looking forward to working with that you have not had the opportunity to utilize yet?
One way I enjoy working is 'medium is message' and for me I love working with the existing clout a material has therefore I find myself working in unconventional materials.  In the past I have made work with materials such as chocolate, gelatin, and chewing gum.  In terms of future projects I definitely have some challenging materials in mind, marshmallows is one of them, more makeup, and maybe hard candy?  

Participants work on a puzzle in What is Going on Down There?  An Interactive Introduction to the Uncomfortable Transitions of Puberty, 2013.  Photo © Aimee Santos

5.  If there were no restrictions and your art could be whatever you wanted, what would it be?
I love that you asked this question. One, because I like to work in unconventional materials, I have been running into preservation and conservation issues with galleries and other exhibition spaces because of some of these materials.  And I completely understand that no one like it when a gelatin sculpture starts melting because of spot lights.  Second, Since starting Au Courrant, I have been fantasizing about other make up related work.  If there were not restrictions I would love to recreate Queen Elizabeth I's throne room completely made up of red lipstick. 

Eustaquio create gum from scratch to make a meaningful demonstration of modern day feminism.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Surrounded by investment dust, saw dust, metal shavings, power tools and kilns, Eustaquio makes her pretty known through her personality and dress.  Inspiring the undergraduate students, especially the females, to realize they can sculpt, pour metal and chase away scratches with a grinder just comes with job.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Now working in small metals Eustaquio has created bronze compacts to signify an inner strength any woman can carry within themselves even when they wear makeup and have on a fancy dress.  Photo © Aimee Santos