Interview – KIRSTEN MCCREA
For this second interview we’re proud to feature the work Kirsten McCrea, a true creative force of nature, who has been a very regular contributor to this project over the years.
She’s been described by Ion Magazine as “the kind of person you would want to hang out with all day and try your best just to keep up with her.” A damned true story if there ever was one!
We invite you to discover her inspiring, colourful, and multi-faceted world!
Where are you from and where are you now?
I’m from Edmonton, Alberta and I landed in Montreal for a few years, en route to my current home in Toronto.
What do you do? How do you describe your art practice?
I’m a multi-disciplinary artist obsessed with pattern, bright colours, and politics. While some of my artwork can be found on clothing and notebooks from brands around the world, I’m also a big fan of doing weird stuff that would never fit on a T-shirt.
For the past eight years, I’ve been working on a series called Hot Topic, which aims to celebrate underground iconic feminist figures through the creation of an alternate canon. To date, the series is comprised of 80 portraits of people whose amazing achievements have made the world a better and more equitable place, a book, a website, and a user-generated digital archive. www.hottopicproject.com
I also run an affordable art subscription called Papirmasse. We send a monthly art print to people for just over $5, including postage. Since that project started I’ve published the works of over 80 artists and writers and have mailed 20,000 art prints. Crazy! www.papirmass.com
When did your practice as an artist begin?
When I won an Easter bunny colouring contest at age 4. And then again at age 20, when I dropped out of university to go to art school. Sorry, Women’s Studies degree, I will never complete you.
Why do you feel compelled to create art?
Because that’s how my brain works. It’s like breathing.
What is your proudest accomplishment as an artist?
It was a great honour to be invited into the Art Gallery of Ontario last February to install a giant wheat paste installation of my deer drawings. At the time, I thought that it would be a long time before I would get to go back, but I just found out that I will be showing at the AGO again in January, this time doing a performance where I will barter people printed material in exchange for stories dictated by my custom-made “Intimate Conversation Starter” Magic 8-Ball.
What improvement, alteration or innovation would you most like to see in the arts?
I started Papirmass because I think that we live in a society that puts art into an elite sphere, and that’s wrong. We live in the most visually saturated culture of all time — and yet almost all of the images we see are trying to sell us something. People get bombarded with ads all day long yet they think they need an Art History degree to have any thoughts about art. It makes for a very passive populace. We need non-commercial, non-branded imagery, so that we can be citizens instead of just consumers. I hope that by sending art into people’s homes, I can help them realize that there is no “expert”. It comes to your door, YOU open, YOU decide if you like it, YOU are the expert. I’m a huge fan of street art because it can’t be bought and sold (even though more and more young artists are using street art as a career springboard, to elevate the prices of their gallery works — but that’s a whole other rant).
Where do you feel the value lies in artistic collaboration?
Two heads are better than one. Twenty heads are a clusterfuck. My weirdest images were always created in En Masse jams, and that’s a great thing. Let’s get freaky. Also: art schools don’t teach technique anymore. Painting next to amazing artists for hours on end was waaaaay better than getting my BFA.
What is next for you?
2014 is going to be nuts! I am lining up some incredibly great artists and writers for Papirmass for 2014. I’ll be showing at the Art Gallery of Ontario for the January First Thursday event. I’ll spend the month of May next year as the artist-in-residence at the KIAC in Dawson CIty, Yukon. And then I fly from Dawson to Montreal for La Centrale’s giant 40th anniversary bash. I’ll stay on at the gallery for two weeks after that as artist-in-residence, exploring the successes and failures of my Hot Topic project. And you know that while I’m in Montreal, I’m going to be looking to get my hands dirty with En Masse.
Visit the website of this great lady, and learn a bit more about the beautiful artworks she has done.
You can also visit the papirmasse site , and submit to receive some arts directly at home.