Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Alex Pokas and I’ve been a Chicago resident for about 4 years, living in Ohio and North Carolina beforehand. I work as a Workplace Interior Designer at Perkins + Will and currently reside in Lakeview East. Growing up in rural Ohio provided an abundance of nature that grew into a deep relationship. I have always found beauty and awe in the natural world and seek contact with nature in everyday experiences. I enjoy and search for these natural experiences and love to learn about the universe and our place in it.
What kinds of art do you create?
I’m always trying to experiment with different types of art and media. I’ve been hand sketching since a young age and it’s one of my favorite ways to observe and ideate. More recently I’ve found a strong passion in Natural Dyeing. Every natural material has its own unique traits and exposures that creates a new result with every dye. The process for me ties deeply into local roots and a sustainable approach to the craft. I source my flowers from local florists to salvage and re-purpose flowers that are unable to be sold in store, and work to give them a new life. It’s an ever-evolving process for me that has benefited all facets of art and design in my daily life.
How did you get started?
For me, Natural Dyeing started with a desire for a stronger connection to nature and a curiosity about the possibilities of natural materials, outside the ordinary. I began reading as much as I could on the subject and discovered the small but deeply connected group of madder-day natural dyers, as well as the ancient practices of natural dyeing that stretches back to the Neolithic period. I began collecting dyestuff from friends, colleagues, florists, and harvested materials found in Chicago’s urban landscape. It has been a continual exploration ever since, with much more to learn.
In one sentence, briefly describe your artistic style:
Unruly, articulated, dynamic, ecocentric