Alice Attie received a doctoral degree in Comparative Literature and an M.F.A. in Poetry and taught literature throughout the New York area before turning her attention to her artwork. She was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2016-2017.
Alice Attie’s ink drawings involve the minuscule. They often explore the territory between writing and drawing, where the two overlap. Her drawings are meditations in ink that allow tiny marks to accumulate over long sustained periods of time. Engaging repetition, rhythm and gradual change, she allows minuscule words, figures, numbers and images to accrue and grow on the paper. When presenting a landscape of numbers or letters or of a language that is not real, she is inspired to push and suspend meaning, allowing it to slip into visual abstraction.
Attie has attended seminars in physics and philosophy at Columbia University for a period of several years. “Class Notes” is a series of drawings, each of which was created within the time frame of a single class period. Taking notes in class, Attie re-inscribes the lectures as drawings; they became visual analogues to the intellectual adventures that Attie finds herself drawn to. The tenuous distinction between drawing and writing is invoked, and as the lines of these two merge and collaborate, they seem to stand for something entirely other.
Her interest in the theories and concepts of advanced physics, for instance, is not distinct from her curiosity about the mathematical ciphers themselves; their strange ineluctable beauty suggests, but never explicates, their meaning. While any language may be inaccessible on one level, it may be captivating and inspiring as it is re-figured and embraced on another.
Philosophy lectures, on Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault and the Philosophy of Islam also inspire the work that marks and often embodies some of the very dilemmas that philosophy addresses. In an ongoing body of work, inspired by the late works of the writer/philosopher Michel Foucault, Attie takes the phrase “Take Care of Yourself” (taken from the teachings of the ancient Greeks) to the drawing page - to form a landscape of endless inscription and abstraction. There is a play between the tangible and the intangible, the physical and the metaphysical, the miniscule and the grand. The tangling and untangling of strands, moving between what is legible and what is illegible, are what enthralls Attie. As she engages that tension, the drawings become wondrous explorations of ambiguity and interpretive possibility.
Her photographs and works on paper are in the collections of The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Jewish Museum, all in New York, The Getty Museum in Los Angeles and The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, among others.
Attie’s first book of poems “These Figures Lining the Hills” has been published in 2015. The second book of poems “Under the Aleppo Sun” will be out in Spring 2018 with Seagull Books/University of Chicago Press.