Meet Arielle Avenia

1) Please state your name and a brief description of the amazing things that you do!

My name is Arielle, I currently have a full time job as a sculpture fabricator and designer for Sean Kenney, who is a fantastic Lego artist.

I have been running the project Aftermath Supplies at the Silent Barn with my friend and co-conspirator Devin Lilly. Aftermath Supplies is a center for recycled art materials– all the items in our “shop” are sourced from donations and salvage.


We did that for a year, and now the Aftermath Space is transitioning into a space for sewing and screen printing. We decided that we are not shop keeps and are much more interested in interacting with materials rather than just storing them. We’ll teach some classes, have open studio hours, and provide services for folks using recycled materials.

I can’t wait to print show posters!!! And I’m still excited about diverting usable materials from the waste stream. Anything that is donated to us and is unused will be put out in the Free Shelf outside of the shop instead of selling it. We should be open for creating and commissioning in mid May.

aftermath free shelf

I also do sewing work for Kae Burke, co-owner of House of Yes and main proprietor of Make Fun Studios, when she gets big projects. She’s about to start costuming for a 90’s punk space rock opera, so that will be really fun.

I’m in the process of preparing drawings for two different and somewhat gigantic mural jobs for Paint the Town, started by Nicolina , but that is kind of on the fence.

Currently, I’m part of a group show called “Resonance” at Headscapes, a warehouse in Long Island City at 26-19 Jackson Ave. I helped with the installation in the front room: The Bank of Mutual Interest, it kind of looks like a mix of a botanica and a really nice check cashing place. We practice money magic through gifts of currency, cleansing currency, and “canceling” current. There is fake money on display and work from a few different artists that are studies to be possibly made into “artbacks”- artist made currency. The closing party is on April 27th, everyone should come check it out!

I also just started working at the farmers market in Fort Greene.
So… things are a little insane. PHEW. I’m sure that I’m forgetting a few things, too. I wish sleep was optional!

When… If… I ever have time again, I really enjoy making costumes for special events and have been getting into quilt work (all from recycled materials, obviously!) I love textiles and I’m psyched to get back to my knitting machine to make some crazy sweaters for next winter.

Arielle Avenia New Quilt

2) How do you balance your creative life with the need to sustain yourself monetarily?

I free-lanced for the longest time, never had a job in NYC longer than 4 months. So I realized to pay the bills I had to become really good at being a worker and was doing pretty much any job that was offered to me. I’d save as much money as I could before quitting ’cause the work was shitty or depressing or getting fired because my boss was probably an unpleasant person or maybe the job would just end. A few times that coincided with meeting some great people and getting sucked into working on an amazing thing with them, and going full speed ahead since there was no work to get in the way… that felt great. But now I have a full time job doing fun and creative Lego model building. It’s totally sustainable to my mental health and just a great work environment in general!

Recently, I just took a month an a half to visit Florida to learn some tailoring from my 85 year old grandmother and to experience New Orleans during Mardi Gras. So I guess I’m still doing the same stuff, just have more money to do it with now.

In general I do a lot of things I love and they also happen to pay me, so I feel lucky, but I also worked really hard to get to that place.

3) How does it feel to work within a complex and extremely prolific collective that is Silent Barn?

Sometimes it can be extremely frustrating to make yourself heard among a collection of ~60 people. But it’s also fantastic because there are people who deal with the things that I’m not interested in or capable of facilitating. For example:  booking shows with obscure female screamo bands from the other side of the US, finding someone to reroute the electrical wiring so that we have enough power in our studio, and finding a trash company that will take all of our weird huge art trash. So the collective is really inspiring in that way.  People have taken it upon themselves to care about things like that on a volunteer basis and they do an amazing job! Meanwhile, I’m tinkering around in my little office sorting bags of beads or taping tinsel onto the ceiling ’cause apparently that what I care about.

It’s also second home, I can go there at any hour and there’s gonna be someone that I want to talk to or someone that was hunting me down anyway to fix their pants or whatever. And in general, I’m pretty honored to know all those people and that they like my art enough and trust me enough to give me actual physical real estate there. I’ve met some great people through running Aftermath Supplies the last year and there are always shows that bring new faces around, you never know who will show up.

4) What do you think are some of the negative elements that surround the current Bushwick art community?

Rising real estate prices? Bad or generally mediocre art? Probably lack of spaces to show a variety of art work (spaces dedicated to art rather than music) or curators to facilitate such shows.

But to be honest, I kind of feel like I’m in a bubble with all of my stuff going on- maybe everyone else is too and that’s a negative thing. I think it’s also weird that people move to Bushwick to “be an artist”, you can live wherever you want and make art.

5) Recognizing the evolution of art communities such as the East Village, Dumbo, Chelsea and Williamsburg, how do you foresee Bushwick’s future? Do you see it following a similar path, or creating a path of it’s own?

It seems like there is a formula in place with those other parts of town.. the artists move in where it’s cheap ’cause we’re poor and accidentally make things more things interesting, then all these flip-flop-wearing random want to go where it’s “cool”, the end. And, well, a few months ago there were some vacant lots at the end of my block and now there are these mammoth ugly grey buildings that will add at least 150 people… and that’s one block. Friends are getting evicted, DIY spaces are closing, condos are being built, I don’t know.

Then there is the whole rezoning of big parts of Bushwick to allow for high-rise buildings, which a lot of the community was in a uproar about. I don’t know what else to say- words are powerful and I can only really relate what I’ve seen and not try to speculate but it’s not looking that good. If and when all of Bushwick becomes a Starbucks Disneyland Outfitters, what can you do? Artists have a history of having to move their community and adapt when the prices get too high- we do it well and that part won’t change.

6) With all the publicity that Bushwick is getting, what do you think is being unsaid?

I’m not an expert on this stuff. I think the point has been made by many people that Bushwick is an old neighborhood just like any other place in NYC and people becoming displaces because of gentrification is real. I’m sure some families have been really screwed by the influx of 20-somethings rushing to live here, but on the flip side, I think there are many folks who own buildings and businesses that have greatly benefitted.

7) How do you envision yourself influencing the future?

Through the current efforts and projects and communities and individuals I put stock into at the timebank.

8) How does it feel to know that the artwork you make will outlive you?

Assuming that it does, I guess I feel OK about that. I’ve made a LOT of stuff so it’s pretty possible that after I die there will be some stuff hanging around.

I’ve been less interested in visual objects and more interested in wearable/tactile pieces, installations, temporary art, facilitation/co-ordination/mutual-aid based projects than anything else for the last 4 years. So that way, through working with people I meet, making things to interact and live with and actively enjoy and create memories around, I think that is how my work will outlive me.