How would you describe your work & what do you hope to accomplish?
I have been creating patches adorned with feminist and social justice words/phrases. I use 100% recycled material and hand embroidery. It is a very labor intensive process, but I enjoy every second.
Why is this work important?
Our world is in a constant state of confusion, feminism and social issues included. I believe that it is important to share one’s views and show support, regardless of whatever that means for you. For some people, that is wearing a patch that portrays their opinions. For other’s it may be heading out to protest or having debates with people in their community. Feminism is for everyone and in a time when many are perplexed as to how their feminism or views matter, I hope that my patches give some the confidence to speak up and move forward.
Can you talk about the evolution of your art?
I have been making artwork that revolved around the ideas of feminism and rape culture for three or four years now. My journey into this work began when I began to embroider slips with quotes that rapists had said to their victims. The text was cross stitched and it was in bright red. On the used undergarments, the words were shocking and the message was loud. I enjoyed this project for many reasons, but mostly because several women gifted me slips and shared stories with me about their own experiences. I, in turn, was able to share my own story and help the women who came to me. Many of these women had never talked to anyone about their assaults. After this, I created a body of work about my own experience. This was a two year project and it completely changed the way in which I view healing and my own abuse. A year ago, after finishing this project, I took a haiatus from working with such heavy material. That is until the election this November. The day after, I had no idea what to do, but I began making and that culminated in my patches. The patches begun with very political messages geared towards the new administration, but they evolved into more general terms that are pointed towards where we currently are as a society. I am always thinking of new patches to create and where the project may turn, but for now, I am enjoying making patches that portray themes I like to share.
What inspired you to embark on this path?
When I was sixteen, I was almost killed by an abusive boyfriend. At the time (and the next year or so that followed) I was unsure of how that affected me. Now, I am aware of the fact that that moment was a turning point in my life. I was faced with PTSD for over five years. I was victim blamed, shamed, and eventually hospitalized. Until I was able to find the courage to make artwork about my abuse, I was constantly suffering from the weight of blaming myself. I find art therapeutic. It is a way for me to work through the residual anxiety that my abuse left me with. I also am on a mission to help others in similar positions.
What was the best advice you were given as a mover, maker and/or shaker?
Keep on hustling. It is tough to be a maker, but if you are persistent and have the determination, then you can make it happen. Always search for new ways to bring your art into focus. And most of all, always be improving your work. You must always be evolving, both as a person and a maker.
How do you enlist your community in shaping the goals and methods of your project?
I enjoy working in public or in the company of others. This generates conversations and has lead to me befriending some important people in my life. I love working publicly and attracting the questions of strangers. During my previous project with used slips, I have had many strangers approach me, begin a conversation, and end up donating a slip. During this project, I have had many conversations with new friends that have helped me to find new ways to phrase the views I portray on my patches.
Why do you choose your patches as your main method of engaging with feminism?
Honestly, I have several projects that all equally are part of the way I engage with feminism. The patches are a way for me to work through my own anxieties about our current society while helping others to share their views. I also organize a music festival that is centered around fostering an environment where female musicians and bands that are female fronted are supported and showcased. It is my goal to always feature a majority of female/queer/minority musicians. The music industry is so difficult for anyone who is not a white male. It is difficult for me even after four years, though I am always working to make a difference there.
What feminist book are you reading right now & what do you think about it?
I just started reading Sex Object by Jessica Valenti. I have to admit that this book has made me very sad because the words were so relatable. It is always hard for me to think about the fact that these stories belong to all women because we all have our own stories of harassment, be that physical, sexual, or verbal. I am excited to read more in this book because it fuels my motivation for the projects I am working on. I also want to highlight Missoula by Jon Krakauer. I read this book right when it came out a couple years ago. I think it is a thorough and well written account of what rape culture is and how it affects women.
How do you make your patches more inclusive?
I enjoy receiving feedback from others about what they would like to see on a patch as well as the ways in which they use and exhibit my patches. Again, making work in public helps with this because of the conversations that are started. I also am active in protests where I live, where I am always wearing several patches. I am more interested in talking to people about the messages behind the patches rather than the fact that I have made them. I am always taking suggestions and gladly will work on commissions. I actually have patches that I make on a regular bases that begun as commissions.
What do you wish people understood about your area of interest within feminism?
Rape culture is another term for our misogynist society. Sexism and rape culture are one in the same. There is no cure for rape culture without focusing on society as a whole. It is always very difficult for me when asked what I think our world needs to overcome rape culture. I do not have an answer right now. I hope to one day, but for now I am someone who any survivor can come to. It is never your fault. You did nothing to deserve this.
- Support Alyssa by purchasing some lovely handmade patches in her Etsy shop
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ARE YOU A FEMINIST MOVER, MAKER & SHAKER? WE WOULD LIKE TO SHARE THE IMPORTANT WORK YOU DO. LEARN MORE HERE.
Alyssa Karpa is a visual artist and event promoter who originally hails from the greater Philadelphia area. She spends the majority of her time making feminist art, organizing an annual music festival, and getting outside as frequently as possible. Alyssa has been practicing art for eight years, having traveled throughout the East Coast in order to hone and study her craft. Her passions are heavily founded in facilitating community through art and culture. Alyssa moved to Colorado in 2016 in search of more adventures and new experiences.