My ancestral lineage of African descent and hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois is an inspiration and reference in creating environments that reveal the social and physical conditions of a place. EStL is a city with legacies of race based massacres, segregation, and the rise and fall of industrialization. However, despite these atrocities, EStL has developed a vibrant community and culture. I funnel all of these characteristics into imaginative and familiar environments using installations, sculpture, sound, and photography. I record my own experiences that challenge tha status quo of urban environments to create art based on site, memory, play, and family.
I use materials, patterns, and colors that derive from cityscape and edgelands areas. Within cityscapes, asphalt and the design of cities are particularly what I am looking at and for when working in these sites. I have a saying that “the street holds memory”, this is true in the stories told and lost in urban areas. I manipulate asphalt, a material used in cities for paved roads in order to create new structures. For example, in my sound installation Tha Block is Hot I created five 6 foot tall pillars covered in asphalt. Within the pillars loud sounds (that I collected for 3 years) of beauty shop chatter, screeching trains, police sirens, lawn mowers, rain, windchimes, my father laughing, and mother reading a poem. While I inserted a whisper telling everyone to “be safe”. I am storytelling through tha busyness of everyday sounds and mystical structures.
Another type of area I focus on is called edgelands, which is where urban cities are adjacent with rural landscapes. Documenting these areas are essential in challenging existing perceptions of areas that seem unused or abandoned. My Building Abandonment Place Marker Series are photographs documenting a hand-built fluorescent orange garden box representing growth, safety, and visibility. The place marker is photographed in various locations of edgelands- categorized by what was, what is, and what will be.
I admire the new creations and possibilities when showcasing all aspects of cityscape culture and its proximity to natural landscapes. Through this admiration, I build new structures, objects, and interactive installations to find moments of discovery.
Allena Marie Brazier is an Artist from East St. Louis, IL. She has earned her Master of Fine Arts Degree from Washington University in St. Louis Missouri and her Bachelor of Fine Arts minor in Art History from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Illinois.
From a young age, Allena has expressed an interest in subject matters of race, class, and systematic structures, especially as it pertains to and involves Black Americans from the past to contemporary times. Being raised in a city with a rich history of talent, success, economic indifference, segregation, redlining, and riots, she is inspired to express the history of Black Americans in the United States from her perspective through her artwork.
Throughout her educational career, Allena has embodied why East St. Louis is called the City of Champions. She has volunteered for several charity organizations, including youth organizations, campus activities, and senior living facilities. She has been on the dean's list and recognized for her artistic accomplishments. In 2018, Allena served as the Katherine Dunham Fellow with the St. Louis Arts and Education Council. In 2019, her outdoor Sculpture, Katherine Dunham: Perpetual Motion, was awarded the First Place Luis Jimenez Award during the SIUE Sculpture on Campus annual event. In Spring 2020, Allena was honored with the Elevate East St. Louis Scholarship from the Department of Art and Design for exemplary academic achievement.
In addition to her academic achievements, Allena has exhibited her sculptures and 2D works throughout the Midwest region at places such as The Luminary in St. Louis MO., Thomas Gallery-Olin Library St. Louis MO., Jacoby Arts Center in Alton, IL., and The Valade Family Gallery Detroit, Mi. Allena has also exhibited internationally through a group competition for the International Exhibition: Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design in Chicago, IL., The In Art Gallery (online), and recently she was selected for the 2021 International Sculpture Center's Outstanding Student Achievement Award for her Sculpture Passionate Desires.
In 2022 Allena was selected to hold the first position as Curator in Residence under Washington University Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts program. She planned and developed, three exhibitions Belonging: Cross River Art Exhibition (BCRAE), In-Between Spaces Photography Exhibition, and Sending Love and Light (which ends September 15th, 2023 at UCity TechArtista Space. As a graduate of 2023 Allena had the honor and blessing to give the Commencement Speech to her class Washington University Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts along with and speaker Nema and keynote speaker Min Jung Kim.
2023 Washington University Sam Fox Commencement Speech. Graduate Speaker