As I reflect on the evolution of the Artist’s Collaborative I am privileged to be a member of, two terms come to mind. The first, long a family favorite of ours, is a sailing term: monitor and adjust. Self explanatory, it is absolutely necessary to the ability to move forward in a sailboat. If you don’t have an awareness of all the changing conditions affecting you, you will likely find yourself off course fast. It has also served well as a personal and family motto. Take stock of your life. Where have you been, where do you want to be, and how do you plan to get there…?

The second term that comes to mind is adaptation. Species that can not adapt eventually go extinct, or are left behind. Let me just pause for a moment here, and say that creative people are fantastic at adapting! The world around us is constantly changing, and through our art, we address relevance and meaning while purposefully working to inspire others towards contemplation or action. Art expresses our view of who and how we want to be in the world.

Kimberly Mehler Cone 1 Image
Kimberly Mehler Cone 3 Image
Kimberly Mehler Cone 2 Image

Through much thoughtful reflection, introspection, and discussion, we have decided to adapt, monitor, and adjust to the changing world around us. When our group was formed over a dozen years ago, many of us were striving to make a place for ourselves in the greater art community along with balancing the needs of nurturing young children. This was often isolating and frustrating. By joining together and supporting each other, we were able to address that isolation, and to grow as artists. We also discovered, along with developing our individual art practices in diverse mediums, that we collaborate well! This was not in our original mission, but we have chosen to embrace our ability to make an impact together. As our children grew, along with our freedom, our group flourished, our standards of excellence were recognized, and we continued to exhibit both individually and together, through exhibitions, installations, and performances. I am very proud of the children we have raised, (Thank you artist mothers, for getting me through the teenage years! Phew!) and continue to be excited about the work we have created together, and the fact that we are now fully integrated into the Philadelphia art community.

Kimberly Mehler Tessalated Mural Image
Kimberly Mehler Tessalated Mural Image right
Kimberly Mehler uses tessellated text in her Mural for at the George Washington Carver High School of Science and Engineering.

In some cultures, you are given a name at birth, and then when you are around age 12 or so, you take a different name that reflects your personality or life’s work. This is the current stage in which we find ourselves – our previous name no longer fits who we have become. By exploring and examining many different ideas, we have decided on Artessa Alliance. Tessa refers to tessellations, which are individual shapes that are linked together, creating vivid patterns. We feel that this reflects well who we are and what we stand for: individual artists developing their own practices in diverse mediums, who often work closely together on projects – where the sum of the parts ends up being greater than the whole. It also speaks to the fact that we are women.

In Women’s Ways of Knowing, Carol Gilligan speaks to the fact that men are hierarchical, and think about relationships in terms of ladders, whereas women think about relationships in terms of connectedness, such as webs or networks. This is who we are! We support, collaborate, network, and nurture. Gloria Steinem speaks often about being linked rather than ranked, so that all can flourish. So, there you have it: Artessa Alliance.

We are linked, allied women artists who adapt to the world around us and engage individually and collectively with the community by creating relevant and thought-provoking art, which hopes to inspire others to work towards positive change. As we move forward, adapting, monitoring and adjusting, our vision is to explore, learn, and hone our craft as we continue to speak to you through our art.