Illustration by Fabio Vermelho
Alaina Varrone is an embroidery artist from New Haven, Connecticut. Born in 1982 to a family of weirdos and storytellers, she uses this natural creativity to tell her own stories in thread. Many of her works display strong female characters and she is influenced by history, culture, and the esoteric. We absolutely love what she is doing and her beautiful answers to our brain map below. You can check out her work at her website here.
1. Do you actively do anything to keep your brain healthy, and if so what? I like to read nonfiction, work on puzzles with absurd amounts of pieces, and I recently started building a dollhouse.
2. If you could add or take away anything from your brain what would it be? I would like to remove some of the memories.
3. Are you more emotion or reason based when making decisions? I’m more reason based when it comes to making decisions, emotions aren’t always reliable.
4. In what situations have you learned the most about yourself? I learned a lot about myself when I moved to Manhattan on my own. And then I learned a lot in the year I almost lost both of my parents, one to a pulmonary embolism and the other to cancer. Both of my brothers lived in different states, so it was up to me to take care of them on my own. I learned how strong I am, not just for myself but for my loved ones.
5. If you could live inside of a book, which one would it be? If I could live in a book it’d be Northanger Abbey.
6. Do you think a time exists that is easiest to create? For instance, do you strike the muse or does the muse strike you? I’ve learned to let the art come to me, which can be excruciating at times, but you just can’t force it.
7. Are there certain elements that you employ to set up the perfect mental space for creating? I like to arrange all of my materials around me on the couch, I like to have coffee and water beside me, and a tv show or podcasts to listen to while I embroider, and comfortable clothing is a must.
8. What smells do you most associate with your childhood? My mother always wore this warm spicy perfume, it was called Tigress, it was so distinct and pleasant, I used to love hugging her when she wore it.
9. Do you have a place you go to, either physically or mentally, where you feel the most at peace? I once had a dream many years ago that I was floating in a pond filled with bright green lily pads, beneath a canopy of weeping greenery, I go back to it often.
10. Do you think that people need some form of discomfort to make art? I think that trying to be a professional artist is learning to live with constant discomfort. There are so many sacrifices involved with following a dream. Maybe it’s a compulsion. Sure some artists need to be in emotional pain to give their art meaning, but embroidery isn’t an impulsive medium, so I am not able to express myself as quickly. Discomfort is daily life, art is my escape and my joy.
11. What is your least favourite physical sensation? My least favorite physical sensation is that feeling of dread right before you hear bad news, like your entire torso is hollow except for this one bit at the bottom that’s smoldering with fire.
12. What is your favourite physical sensation? My favorite sensation is reciprocated love.
13. Do you expect happiness in your life? I no longer expect happiness in my life. I take whatever joy I can find in the little things in my daily life, as for the big things, I just don’t think they’re meant for me.
14.Do you try and avoid feeling negative emotions or do you feel it is more constructive to experience your emotions fully? I don’t avoid negative emotions, I just see no advantage to romanticizing them. Feel them, do something productive with them, and then move on.
15. What is your biggest fear? My biggest fears are worms and those living sculptures.
16.What flaws do you think you have when it comes to communicating with other people? I’m so used to being on my own that I have a hard time telling others what I need and feel. I also avoid arguments like the plague, and I value my alone time.
17.Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares? If so, what do you think they mean? I have a recurring dream that I’m packing all of my belongings to go somewhere, only I can’t find things, or I’ll think I have all of my belongings, but then I find more things to pack. I have no idea what it means, it just happens every few days.
18. Do you find your mood affected by different colour palettes? I am very sensitive to color! I surround myself with soft pastels and whites because they calm me and lift my mood. I can’t tolerate primary colors or greys. There’s a darkness to them, vibrationally I suppose, that I don’t want to be attached to.
19.If you could live in a world where the aesthetic was controlled by a particular visual artist or film director, who would you choose? I would live in a world inspired by Jane Campion’s aesthetic in Bright Star.