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Alex Elena and Lisa Butler, 'I Am America' - Artists' Interview

Alex Elena and Lisa Butler, 'I Am America' - Artists' Interview


I Am America is a beautiful photography collaboration between two beautiful, creative individuals, Alex Elena and Lisa Butler.  We fell in love with their piece: Summer Recycle, see below, and subsequently all of their work, which we think you're going to love too ;)  

As they describe themselves, "I am America is a photo journal that celebrates the dignity of human resilience. It is a journey through time, chronicled by images of simplicity and grace, meant to reveal the many facets of who we are, as Americans, and as a people united by our endurance and our beauty.  The symbolism of the American flag is communicated through its context in portraits.  The American flag is relevant to all who have come to this land, and through the use of it as an iconic symbol we pay homage and respect to the human experience."

madeLOKAL: What do you dream would be the impact of every person who views your photography?

Lisa: What we dream, and better yet hope, is that each image Alex and I create translates universally. That it communicates with a voice so intimate and dear that there is no explanation needed since it is all “right there” for the viewers to see and interpret.  We want the images to touch an individual the same way music does, transcending cultural backgrounds, barriers and putting us in touch with the “Universal Language”.  “No subtitles needed” as Alex would say.

madeLOKAL: What was the inspiration for the "I Am America Project"?

Lisa and Alex: The inspiration first and foremost was, and still is to be Creative, Free and to “Celebrate.  To “Celebrate” is to open oneself up to endless possibilities.  If one is able to achieve this, doors will open and so much will happen.  When we applied this philosophy “ I Am America” was born.  It started as two incredibly creative people getting together and just shooting for the love of it, to see what might happen.  

Nothing was planned.  We saw each other the night prior to the shoot, at an event, and made plans to do a shoot the following day.  Lisa was just visiting Los Angeles and all of her clothes and props were 357 miles away.   She was staying with a friend who is a painter and a fan of Japanese culture, who had worked on a series of paintings based on the American Flag.  Lisa gathered what she could find in His apartment:  Kimonos, different fabrics and an American flag folded neatly sitting in the corner begging for her to pick it up. To make a long story short that flag ended up on Lisa’s head and the image “American Nefertiti” gave birth into the world.  

madeLOKAL: What was the biggest misconception of Americans before you started living in the USA?

Alex: I moved to the States in 1999 and I personally had no misconception about the US.  I always travel with an open mind.  People in Europe have an idea of this country that comes straight from Hollywood.  When I first started exploring NYC it looked just like a  film....It still is a film!

madeLOKAL: What was the most Eye opening experience about this Shoot?

Alex: The reminder that everything is possible and never to get stuck or be put in a box.  Always to follow your instincts and to shelter yourself from outside opinions. Only then you can create a unique vision.  I always and have only been interested in creating something new.  This project, and the collaboration with Lisa, allows me to fully do so.

Lisa: The most eye opening experience for me is something I have been exercising ever since I was a child. “If you can dream it then it becomes Possible”. If you can allow yourself to let go and dream...... the possibilities are infinite. This project has been a refresher course that opened my eyes all over again and I am extremely grateful for that. 

madeLOKAL: What are some other projects you dream of taking on in the next few years.

Lisa and Alex: To tell you the truth this project still is at it’s beginning stages. There is so much to do. It must be nurtured. There are so many more images to be shot and added.  “ I Am America”, is an essay with a voice, and it is a “voice of many”.  It’s going to take time but we are both not in a hurry........after all Rome wasn’t built in a day.  In terms of other projects, they will come and go.  We have an idea for one that is simply brilliant. It will be revealed in due time.  We’ve become quite superstitious about speaking out before the creativity is physically manifested. 

Lisa: I have a few other projects that have been coming to me in the middle of the night whispering in my ear. But at the moment it is “ I Am America” that keeps shouting out loud.  And I hear every word of of it.

To view Alex and Lisa's work, visit their website: www.weareIAMAmerica.com and follow them both on Facebook: Lisa Butler and Alexelena007 + Instagram @alexelena007 and @lisalbutler


For those of you who know about the United States Flag Code, we just wanted to acknowledge that while Alex and Lisa do not follow flag code, their entire work is done with the upmost respect and love to Americans.  And for those of you who do not know about the code, there is a long long list of rules about how the American flag can and cannot technically be draped.

For a list of 10 American made shoe companies, click here.


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