#18: Alexander Ablola
Photography and fashion shape Alexander Ablola’s world, a crossover milieu that he navigates from behind the lens and, as a design-savvy artist and costumer, behind the scenes. On the human level, Ablola says he seeks to understand his place in that world as an Asian/Latino man, finding his way through a living tangle of “gender and racial politics, identity and culture.” As Ablola prepares to unveil a new volume of Soft and Shallow, a DIY fashion magazine he launched with fashionista friend Meredith MacNicholas, we invited him to take his turn answering the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
Alexander Ablola: I am my creative muse. Fashion can be seen as a very responsive medium of art. It’s typically very trend-based, but I’m finding myself more inspired by who I was, who I am and how I feel. The artists I enjoy most translate their emotions and experiences, and I think that’s what makes their work so universal. What happens in the micro also speaks of the macro; these feelings are all a part of being human, so I have to tell them with honesty.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
Bruce Lee, Malcolm X and Sadhguru. Each of them are spiritual and philosophical, while also maintaining a very real connection to our world. Bruce Lee sought to express himself honestly through martial arts and share his culture through the feelings in his films. Malcolm X sought to liberate black people from the oppression of white America through action. Sadhguru is still holding seminars and speaking on how we should deal with ourselves to deal with our world. It would be a very powerful meeting of minds, and I’m most interested in how to expand the human consciousness.
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
The best thing about the Denver community is the support and recognition from my peers. The worst part is that none of us have money.
How about globally?
Globally, fashion/photography might be more important than it’s ever been, but I also think that it’s reaching saturation.
Are trends worth following? What’s one trend you love and one that you hate?
Trends are never worth following, but they are important to observe. They tell us about what’s happening politically, societally and economically. I do love the rising trend of art in America. It seems to have invaded all pop-culture spaces, and everyone wants to be a creative now. I don’t hate any of it, and everyone and everything has its own space and deserves to exist. If it doesn’t resonate with me, then it’s just not for me.
What’s your day job?
I am an art installer and art handler.
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
I’m only 26 and have barely touched the surface of what life has to offer, so there are many things I still have to experience. I think travel is one of the most important things for perspective, so I would love to do more of that in the coming years. The most important thing I can do with my life is to make a positive impact and change the world. That’s what I’ll always be striving for.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I love Denver. I love my friends. I love the mountains. I love the sun. I love how it’s impacted me, but all good things must come to an end. It’s growing, but I don’t know if it’s growing in a direction that’s best for artists, so I’m seeking other areas with more potential for growth.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
My great and talented friend Caleb Hahne is always putting out work that inspires me to go farther and work harder.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
To slow down and take more time to think. I have been rushing around since founding Soft and Shallow with Meredith at the end of 2016. I want to dedicate my time to honing and exhausting one idea, which I have yet to do.
Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
I hope that the youth get more exposure, because they’re the ones who are going to keep changing our perceptions of art and culture. We owe it to them to give them a platform to express themselves and stretch their imaginations.
Join Alexander Ablola and Meredith MacNicholas for the release of Soft and Shallow’s third volume, "Wet Ruffles," a visual exploration of male platonic intimacy, at a reception on Friday, July 20, from 6 to 11 p.m. at Melon Gallery, 200 Galapago Street. A related installation by Ablola, MacNicholas, Orenda Lou, Sammy Keller, Wade Novotny, Anthony Jones and Gaia Orr will remain on view at the gallery through the end of July.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.