a conversation with ali beletic

How did your upbringing influenced your sense of aesthetics?

Aesthetics is a very interesting subject, traversing much territory for humanity. I have a deep internal sense of aesthetics -­‐ which in a Jungian sense -­‐ feels very symbolic and personal. Beyond that though, I’d have to say my broader sense for aesthetics was truly first developed by my time spent living in New York City.

New York is a great place to cut your teeth as an artist and a musician. I lived in Brooklyn at this phenomenal moment in time when I was one of the younger artists being inducted into a sort of artistic beatnik tradition where everyone was painting, playing music, building out there own studios and constantly checking out the latest amazing show (which was anything from some some never-­‐heard-­‐before Swedish rockers to a Malian talking drum ensemble) down at Zebulon. It was a dig your teeth into that classic beautiful rugged New York artistic heritage.

Simultaneously, a huge cross-­‐section of the world’s art and history is there for you at your fingertips.
There is literally every weekend some phenomenal Bauhaus retrospective over at MOMA or the Ancient Egyptian artifacts on display over at the MET. The Guggenheim would have complete takeovers by a single artist.

Dia was still a two story building in Chelsea, and I would wander those streets, indulging myself in one of the many galleries over there. I spent literally hundreds of hours at the Lincoln Center music library -­‐ sinking my teeth deep into blues roots music and jazz singers.

In New York, you can’t help but become a classicalist. I mean, to be able to take a snapshot of humanity’s cross section of art and intentional aesthetic expression, at one moment like that will give you a pretty worldly artistic perspective -­‐ and then you take that to the streets, where you run into a large cross section of cultures, still holding ties to the wildly different cultural values, languages and stories that humanity has in it’s rich history.
So interpreting aesthetics is a very interesting subject, both as a personal, almost natural sense of beauty and symbolism and secondly as a language, study, and almost anthropological form for understanding humanity -­‐ in it’s survival, philosophical discourse and consciousness via it’s sensory expression.

At a certain point, I believe, it becomes a sense.

Your artwork speaks to me on a rather a spiritual level. What is the importance of the desert to you as both a woman and as an artist?

Thank you. A large portion of my artwork is based in evoking experiences and feelings that I believe are part of our latent senses and identity. I am trying to dig into our shared history, through a myriad of studies -­‐ my research includes human history, landscape identities, natural ecology, wilderness skills and personal time spent observing wildlife and a primitive habitat. I am trying to bring some of these latent instincts as an experience to a modern art world expression.
I moved to the desert at a very special point in both my work and my naturalist training. My boyfriend, Seth Olinsky (Cy Dune, Akron/Family) and I decided to take a year and move to the Sonoran desert and create new work. Every day I would hike in to trackless wilderness and spend an hour observing the wildlife, the changing landscape, the weather patterns, and the relationships that existed in a completely natural environment. Daily I ran into coyotes, deer, javelina, foxes, owls, various bird and bug species, changing edible and medicinal plants, overturned rocks, and new dens and nests, snakes, raccoons and so on. I think as a result of my time spent out there, I developed some sensory and emotional awareness that relates to a naturalist type training. I also developed a deep sense of place and enjoyed the freedom that comes with knowing how to survive on the Earth -­‐ it is a deep sense of abundance and in my opinion, a true sense of home. I deeply believe that getting in touch with our sensual nature and senses will help arise some feminine and masculine sensibilities that we have. This kind of knowledge and experience has profound consequences for a person and I hope to share this with our community at large.

I wrote and recorded a record out of my studio there, which is being released in a couple months on Lightning Records. It is called Legends of These Lands Left to Live. It is a wildly different statement -­‐ emotional and well, musical. For me, it is much more direct and provocative. I am excited to release it. I believe, in that statement, you’ll find the more feminine and raw energy you are asking about in your question.

I am intrigued by a new sense of post-­‐feminist femininity I see developing a bit on the outskirts of culture. I myself as a woman somewhat share in this sense. I believe its a bit raw and rugged, earthy, punk, yet beautiful and even re-­‐attaching to an inherited sense of being a woman without some of the trappings that also come with our past.

I definitely went through a somewhat rebellion to femininity as given to me in my teenage years and my twenties. I was much of a tomboy and punk and never got into beauty or say, fashion. I think my time in the desert, and also the dedication I gave to music out there, really invoked a re-­‐connection to an additional and deeper sense of womanhood. The female singing voice is very different than a male one -­‐ and writing music for myself to sing that still embodies a rock n roll spirit forced me to really get in touch with my sense of womanhood in order to interpret rock n roll through a feminine lens.

Can you tell us a bit about your latest artwork? What materials do you use?

Right now, I am producing works out in the Mojave. I just finished the first of my Mojave installations. It’s titled Under /// the Same Sun, and was completed in the tradition of Michael Heizer’s Circular Surface Planar Displacement Drawing, 1970, where he used a motorbike to make drawings into a leveled dry lake bed. I too used my dirtbike to mark into a dry lake bed, marking the path of the sun for the equinox -­‐-­‐ using center points of circles and an opening left untracked -­‐-­‐marking 90 and 270 degrees -­‐-­‐ due East and due West -­‐-­‐ which only happens at the equinoxes. The greatest perspective to view the work was consequently during sunrise and sunset as I created it -­‐ as there was a third dimension -­‐ and you could really see the shapes being carved into the earth rising into the sky and in line with the sun either direction. The landscape out there was really vast and you really got that sense that you were standing on the Earth and looking out into ad infinitum. I have a feature about the work in the new motorcycle magazine, La Motocyclette, coming out this month. I go into detail there about the symbolism and the process of the work.

Currently, I am installing a new sculptural work into the side of a hill. So this work is in the earth art tradition of removing earth and considering the negative space to have a sculptural quality. I am currently engineering the work and I am hoping to build the inside out of travertine, which is a stone formed by precipitation of calcium carbonate -­‐ often in a geothermal pool.
The final work will include materials of air, fire, earth, wood, light, and stone. Each of these materials, have so much symbolism behind them. It is important to me that my works have a sensual quality to them.

I want people to be able to interact with my work through our many senses. Through their sense of balance, and their sense of touch, through their sense of heat and so on. I am also interested in where these senses cross paths, not from a biological level, but from a psychological level and furthermore how that crosses paths with emotion and ancient memory. I think working with these kinds of materials increase the potency and sensuality of the artwork itself -­‐ drawing on already established connections to material. I am also currently making new paintings as part of my studio works. These are made with minerals that I harvest and crush down. Minerals often have a lot of uses.

For example, Ochres are among the earliest pigments used by mankind. They were also used as medicine, and body decoration among the Egyptians and Chumash. Aboriginal Australians used them in cave painting, bark painting, and in the preservation of animal skins. The Maori mixed them with fish oil to color the large Waka Taua – war canoe. Carvings of Ochre show up in the Blombos cave in South Africa-­‐ dating back to around 75,000 years ago, and again marking an unfinished obelisk in the northern region of the Aswan Stone Quarry. Ochre was the most commonly used material for painting walls in the ancient Mediterranean world. I enjoy the global/regional/temporal aspects of material -­‐ I believe it can help us understand the stories that are contained in the land. I see the mineral paintings and my studio works as a gallery counterpart to my larger installation works, as a way for collectors to participate in the body of my work.  I have a few for sale right now over at the very hip LA gallery, Tappan Collective.

I’m also so in love with your music. I have been listening to Rugged Ancestry on heavy rotation for a while. What made you turn to music?

Thanks so much. This means a lot to me. Rugged Ancestry is an advance song from my upcoming record and it is very relevant to your question as I wrote that song about how rock n roll is an ancient human emotion. I think we all have a wild spirit side and that is a really valuable human trait. Something I hold very dear to my heart.

Hands down rock n roll and playing music has saved my life. Chasing music, rock n roll and this passion has been a form of empowerment, a form of ecstatic sense that has led me to a lot of decisions and experiences I have had in my life and certainly formed my identity. This connection runs deep, and my emotions surrounding the music that has inspired me is unspeakable -­‐ complete awe. The music I write represents a side of myself that is more poetic, less intellectual, more wild and feeling based. Music is a really phenomenal medium, because it is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

I hadn’t recorded a record before this one, because I only started playing guitar at age 20. My mother is a professional singer -­‐ so singing was my first instrument, but I have always been really inspired by guitar shredders. And anyone who is very talented at the guitar, knows that guitar is a lifelong pursuit. I spent many years in Brooklyn, playing piano and studying guitar. It wasn’t until I reached a certain point in my guitar studies, that I felt like I had the talent to make the record I wanted to. So, I really would have to say that music has been a big part of my life -­‐ actually the biggest part -­‐ just a private pursuit until this record.

That record, as I mentioned before, is titled Legends of These Lands Left to Live and I am releasing it in a few months on Lightning Records.

Tell us a little about your philosophy on beauty, well being and riding motorbikes.

I was researching ancient symbols and shapes recently for my new motorbike work and I dug into a discussion of some of the Blackfoot elders talking about their culture and trying to impart into their children the necessary development as a whole being. I really feel like this represents my philosophy on well being. I think in this day and age often, we take an engineering approach -­‐ of pulling things apart to understand them. I studied physics in college, and found myself a bit disheartened by the way physics, in my study, attempted to explain everything from logic. I just felt like there was this assumption that was being made, that if it makes sense to the human brain, it is being held as true. To me, in the end, ultimately, the discourse was only one language, one perspective, one way of knowing. To know something it takes many forms, and to be well, I think it takes much development in many ways of knowing. This is very particular for each person, I revisit this every couple years and try to work on who I want to be -­‐ as a whole. Internally, and externally -­‐ as a musician, as an artist, a lover, an athlete, a friend and family member, a scout, a vanguard, -­‐ emotionally, physically, psychologically, verbally, spiritually, and so on.

My brother’s wife, Vanessa Beletic, is a style professional and producer, and once she mentioned to me her philosophy that one should value what you wear on your back. This really stuck with me. I have always appreciated beauty in nature and adornment as a means of ceremony. In my opinion, her perspective imbued a lot of power into physical objects in a very celebrational and light hearted way. I have deep beliefs that human’s role on the planet has a bit of a celebrational and spirited tone -­‐ and adopting her perspective really fit into that for me. I believe you can relate this back to beauty. I remember reading in one of my national geographic’s about a Navajo prayer called the Navajo Beauty Way and it was about walking among beauty -­‐ I think this relates to her concept. Value yourself, value your time, value your surroundings. Riding motorbikes is a passion. Just like any of my other passions, singing, guitar, surfing, art... Right now I am out in the desert, so it is one of my thrills -­‐ which is huge for me. I am a complete hedonist.
I definitely live with the feeling that I’ve got one life on my sleeve. I deeply try to live a seize the day, be adventurous, no holds barred, your only boundaries are your own and try to push those limits every day type life-­‐style. It’s just what I want to do with my life. I love adventure and seeking new sights, exploring vast country and with dirtbikes and the right wilderness skills, there’s not too many places my eyes can’t set sights on. That gets me stoked.

Blessings and rock 'n' roll and my huge, huge thank you to Ali for taking her time to answer these questions.

 Find Ali's work at --
Sun Era Studio

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