Scatha Allison grew up in Hong Kong with her three sisters, who still live there. Since leaving China, Allison’s art has grown in a direction opposite to that commonly found in her home city, which celebrates highly commercial art over experimental work. But if Allison’s current trajectory is any indication, she’ll soon fulfill her hope of launching a solo show a particular Hong Kong gallery that exhibits installations like hers.
As a member of the Gestalt Collective, a San Francisco-based group of artists, Allison recently completed a large-scale mural for Bay Area Now at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. After spending some time in Iceland after college, Allison moved to San Francisco because she “got seduced by graffiti and that culture.”
“In college I was figurative, subconscious, and did almost exclusively representational work,” Allison says. “Now I’ve moved to the opposite. Over the past three years, I’ve specifically done no figurative work—only abstraction.”
“But for the past year, with my drawings, I’ve been wrestling with how to get back to the figurative. I’m good at abstraction, and like working with the essence of form, but how do you communicate with that? I feel a certain way about organic form, and forms that nature takes in its growth: soft, natural things. Then I started doing this thing called ‘organellas’ . . . abstract paintings in 3D forms.”
In addition to her work with Gestalt, Allison works at a sewing studio on 7th and Market and a fabric store at 8th and Bryant. Her constant movement between these spaces is a kind of dance—the path of an intensely artistic life within an extended art community. On any given day, Allison may create her own clothing, paint a mural, organize an art festival and bring an Organella to life.
“Two years ago I got frustrated with selling. I thought, ‘People are willing to buy clothing . . . and I still need to make things or else I’ll go crazy!’ That’s when I came up with the Organella: it’s like an organ or cell structure, and captured exactly what I was trying to communicate.”
With Yerba Buena completed, Allison looks forward to another Plush exhibit of her Organellas, as well as a busy few weeks creating costumes for people attending Burning Man, a large-scale celebration of art and community in the middle of the Nevada desert.
Completing her room in the week before the show, Allison is “so pleased with it, it is so light. That dictated right away that it would be bright. My being here for a week and a half energizes the space. I hope to impart that to the people who come here.”