The Benefit v.14 Young Professionals Party, a high-profile preview cocktail reception and networking event, takes place on Friday, 6 – 10 pm at Crane Arts. In honor of the preview event, we’re highlighting up-and-coming artists who have donated to this year’s Benefit.
Alexandra Coultas uses her pieces to cut through war and destruction – all while still making time to finish her degree at The University of the Arts and serve as a studio assistant to Michele Kishita.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I currently live in Philadelphia; however, I am from a 6 acre farm in northern New Jersey, where my mother owns 3 miniature horses, a pony, 3 large horses, all of which are part of her therapeutic riding program. Before attending the University of the Arts I spent a few years at the County College of Morris. During my time at county college I felt limited to the kind of work I could create. When I moved to Philadelphia and began studying at UArts I finally felt I was heading in a direction that I was proud of. The high energy of the city helps fuel me to create, while the imagery I am drawn to is more rural, abandoned.
How has your time as a student at the University of the Arts helped shape your path as an artist?
I would have to say everything that I have learned about contemporary artwork has been taught to me by the professors at the University of the Arts. I like to believe that the current work I have been creating has been with me throughout my entire artistic career; however, it took the help of the painting department as well as a select few other professors to get me to the point I am at now. Since the painting department is rather small, I have had the opportunity to work closely with my professors.
What’s it like being an assistant to Michele Kishita?
Being an assistant to Michele has helped me grow in so many ways; she is always teaching me new things, which is great. I think I’ve also learned a lot about what it is to be a professional working artist and the responsibilities and hard work that entails. It is true that there are things that a student will not learn in college; which I have learned during my time with Michele. Michele will be a mentor to me for years to come, and I am very thankful to have the experiences she has given me.
Can you tell me about the BackPack Gallery exhibit?
The BackPack Gallery show was by far one of the most interesting exhibitions I have participated in. I really enjoyed the idea of bringing art to the public. Being that we were at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, our audience was anyone walking through to get to where they needed to go. Even though we were in a location where people are usually in a rush, everyone seemed interested in what we were doing. People came closer to take a quick look, some stopped by and talked to us, and some even hung around for a little while and photographed our event. I would definitely enjoy partaking in a show similar to the BackPack Gallery again.
Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
My work is currently on display at Blick from January 15th until February 9th. After the Benefit show I will be devoting all of my time to my thesis exhibition, which will be taking place in May.
Tell me about the piece you’ve donated to the Benefit.
“3,326,” is truly a piece about dedication and discipline. Executing it was a very slow, meticulous, and painful process. I had been working with images of war and worldwide issues, and in order to control the immediacy of the imagery, I spent many hours cutting out the 3,326 small irregular dots. This piece became a test of my patience and process, and much about the frustrations that accompany war’s tests on humanity.
What are you looking forward to most about the event?
I am looking forward to meeting other artists and seeing their work. I am also very excited about having my work seen by people in the industry outside of the university setting. I also like the idea that my work could potentially have a life outside of my studio and that I’ll be able to contribute to an organization that helps artists.
You can find Alexandra’s work up for auction as part of Benefit v.14.