Alison Peery : "ଘ(☆∩◡∩)人(∩◡∩☆)℞"
Looking at Alison Peery’s quilted paintings one takes note of signifiers of sobriety and recovery. Touching them - as I did on the floor of her live-work space in New York last week - one takes in the pairing of textiles and their textures puzzled together and one thinks of autism. It’s mid-March and it’s late, Alison isn’t sleeping because she’s working on her show, and I am sleeping sparsely because though I’m not sober, I’m on a Lenten hiatus from drinking and feel, frankly, autistic. I’m using autism in the broad sense, the way of common parlance, to refer to “the spectrum” of increasingly typical behaviors that impact communication, particularly verbal. Alison asked me to write her press release because I am more verbal, that is to say less autistic, than she experiences herself to be, though more and more people and their behavior seem to suggest that this spectral condition is a contemporary one.
As my hands pass over the fabrics of the pieces - printed twill, minky shapes - I am particularly drawn to the texture of vinyl flock on one piece that spells I GOT SOME DOPE MEMORIES WITH PEOPLE I’LL NEVER FUCK WITH AGAIN - I have a distinct feeling of tactile comfort. It feels simply and tangibly good that some things are soft and some things are rough and the sensory experience of them alongside one another communicates non-verbally, maybe even pre-verbally, the way it would to a baby or a child, that there is a variance of experience that is within our literal grasp. The imagery is pharmaceutical, narcotic, institutional, and conforms to a childlike, kindergarten palette (primary colors plus green) for which Alison tells me she has a particular aesthetic sensitivity. Knowing Alison, it is hard to say if the ways in which she codes as neurodivergent can be attributed to spectral autism or addiction. Inebriation, as well as medication, self-administered or otherwise, can be a way of putting oneself at ease when we encounter the catastrophes of communication we may not be able to endure. It is out of an overabundance of feeling, of heightened sensitivity, that our world can feel unbearable and in sobriety we are forced to reckon with parts of ourselves that are repressed and painful. Alison’s work reflects an innocence alongside trauma, and a sense of unity among the disorder and confusion of neurochemistry. The reassurance of a fuzzy white heart in tenderness and purity.