"My name is Abi and I was born and raised in Albania, a tiny mediterranean country full of bright colours. My family moved to the states when I was 15 - t'was an angsty time to move continents. I studied architecture at the University of Maryland, and it was in one of my elective classes - Visual Studies in Architecture - that I first started exploring collages. It was liberating to just remix shapes and colors. For once, there was no overthinking it. It was and still is the most fun game I've ever played, probably because I am mostly an introvert. I imagine it's what the brain does when you're sleeping, it's cataloging and piecing together a collage of your memories, as best as it can, I'm just doing it out loud...with my laptop. So far almost all the collages I do are digital and with my own photos. It started as a way to revisit my memories, or see new connections. However, collaging is also becoming a way to communicate with others. There's often a phrase, or sentence that resonates with each collage. An example, after making a collage featuring two of my awesome girl friends, I am particularly excited about "super chill girls with tons of anxiety" to become a series. Because being a girl is fun and stressful and super chill and full of anxiety, let's just embrace it.
I am now finishing the masters of architecture program at Virginia Tech's satellite campus in Alexandria. My collage work is highly influenced by architecture and vice versa. My architecture thesis started with a question of how we can find magic in times of sorrow. We get sad, we can't sleep, we're always "connected" but often alone. Sometimes the only constant is the space we live in. So I am exploring how architecture can help our hearts and minds heal by reconnecting us with the natural rhythm of life: the sun, the moon, circadian rhythms and all. My proposed design is a sleep disorders clinic, which would be located at the gas station site by the 9:30 Club, as well as an absinthe and night studio space across the street to celebrate the night owls. Collage has been a catalyst for quickly understanding the mood of various architectural spaces. I think of collages as visual haikus. Most are done super quickly and with a limited visual vocabulary.
I am influenced by everything I see all the time because I get easily distracted. But I do owe some thanks to Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (and not just because of his awesome name,) the Dadaists, naturally, and special shout out to Euclid for really putting geometry on the map for humanity. My interests and visuals often end up being all over the place, because the goal is to let the brain just wonder and see what happens. However, the underlying connection lies in my curiosity about the power that the spaces we live in and the images we are confronted with have to communicate emotions and thoughts. But most importantly, it's a lot of fun to listen to music and put shapes, colors, and images together - try it!"
view more of Abi's work at her Instagram, @unapologeticbanana.