Place identity examines how people and the space they occupy shape individual and collective identities. Working under concepts of place identity, I use sculptural forms to question how laws and policies like Jim Crow and red-lining have shaped American social behavior and physical landscape.
My hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois (ESTL) is a place of reference. ESTL is a city with legacies of race riots, segregation, and the rise and fall of industrialization. However, despite these atrocities, ESTL has developed a vibrant community and culture. At the intersection of history and everyday life, I am interested in how land holds memory, specifically in urban settings, and the cultivation of identity through the relationship of place.
The choice in material directly connects to land (asphalt) or signifies a specific cultural identity (hair). Materials vary from sculpture, photography, sound, wood, and asphalt, depending on the subject of interest. Reducing the forms and materials helps me focus on the nuances between place, identity, and art.
For example, Tha Block is Hot is an expression of everyday life and the noises that fill the atmosphere in a community with turbulent moments in history and current times. With familiar sounds of alarms, trains, music, and beauty shop chatter, there is an insert of a voice saying be safe. Although my connection to ESTL is specific, I am communicating a shared experience of city life. The 6ft tall asphalt columns heighten the senses and create a monument or symbolism of a present-day anonymous place.
Allena Marie Brazier is an Artist from the Midwest(USA) area. In the Spring of 2021, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in Sculpture and a minor in Art History from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
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 region at places such as Jacoby Arts Center in Alton, IL., The Art and Design West Gallery on the SIUE campus, Flood Plain Gallery in St. Louis, Mo., and the Wood River Museum in Wood River, IL. 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, developed, and opened the exhibition Belonging: Cross River Art Exhibition 2022 (BCRAE). BCRAE selected works from 23 artists across the St. Louis metropolitan area and Illinois communities, displaying 35 works ranging from drawing, painting, wall sculpture, and film. Currently on display April 30th - September 30th at UCITY TechArtista MO.
Currently, Allena is on track to continue her practice in a graduate study for a Master in Fine Arts degree, where she is expected to graduate in Spring 2023.