D's Nails by DC street artist DECOY this November at The Fridge
Last week I visited Alicia “DECOY” Cosnahan’s studio, a warehouse space that several artists share in NE. Floor to impossibly high ceilings are filled with art supplies and works in progress, but the first thing I noticed was a series of magazine-size fingernail-shaped pieces of wood decorated with red, white and powder blue stars and bars, polka dots and bows. Alicia picks up one and describes to me how she and Peter Krsko, Executive Director of public art nonprofit Albus Cavus, applied pressure to the wood to create that familiar concave shape you see when examining your hands. She radiates with the pride reflected in this carefully constructed artwork.
Peter opens the enormous garage door so that we can better access the open space the loading dock provides, and we begin to carry out large, seemingly disjointed pieces of wood covered in acrylic paint – a face, a bow, two hands signing “d” and “c” – each ranging from two to six feet tall. She puzzles the pieces together, forming three artworks, each approaching seven feet. Two are portraits. The third with the signing hands stands alone, a nod to Alicia’s pride in DC, a common theme in her art.
Alicia points to a “51” surrounded by a star, tattooed on a girls leg, “That’s Dondi’s stencil.” Dondi is a friend that recently passed. She says, “Each piece I’m working on now is about a person who has gone through a major life change. My new show is about deciding to make a change and going for it, no matter what that means. I bit my nails for 25 years, and I thought I would never be able to have funky or cool nails. One day I decided, I can do this. This all grew out of that experience.”
Alicia is preparing for D’s Nails, her upcoming exhibit at The Fridge where she will turn the gallery into a nail salon. This will be Alicia’s third show at The Fridge, and the first exhibiting this body of work. She will be giving manicures on Saturdays in November, she’s created nine sets of nails to choose from, including a set inspired by Pink Line founder Philippa Hughes.
Alicia was born in Brussels, Belgium. She graduated from Berry College in Rome, Georgia in 2001, where she picked up the nickname DECOY, chosen at random from a dictionary for a t-shirt design. The t-shirt became her uniform, and her friends soon began calling her by the chance moniker that turned out to be a perfect fit.
Since the early 2000’s, Alicia has developed a career that ranges from public murals and art education to gallery shows at Art Whino and the Katzen Arts Center. She teaches regularly with Albus Cavus, including directing an arts program at the Perry School, a social services provider located at First and New York Avenue NW. This year she was selected by (e)merge to show in the individual artists section.
This week will be spent busily putting the finishing touches on D’s Nails. She’s creating t-shirts and hoodies with new designs, an approach to her work that is in keeping with her desire to make arts accessible for people from all backgrounds. Everyone coming to the opening reception on November 3, 7 – 11pm, is invited to paint on the exterior of the building using acrylic poured into oversize nail polish bottles, and Alicia will be giving free-style manicures at no charge.
I finish up my visit with Alicia by dismantling and moving her artwork back into the studio space where it will sit until The Fridge team picks it up for the installation this week. The seemingly disconnected pieces on the floor each point to a different part of Alicia's life, snippets from the development of a style that has been in progress for more than a decade. The signature strong lines and block colors she uses are deceptively simple. Alicia’s work is rich with meaning.
The Fridge’s D’s Nails by DECOY will be open November 3 – November 25, 2012. Manicures are offered on Saturdays during the month. Please visit www.thefridgedc.com for details. The Fridge is located at 516 ½ 8th Street SE, Washington, DC, 20003. Eastern Market metro.
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