Interview: McKenzie

Today we’re joined by McKenzie. McKenzie is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in sculpture.. She got her start doing 2D art, mainly drawing and painting. She gradually shifted to working with metals, particularly steel and bronze. McKenzie is particularly fond of sculpting bugs. It’s clear she’s a very passionate artist. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Most of my work right now is sculpture work, with mostly metal and slowly moving into mix media projects. I used to do only 2D work, with drawing and painting. My sculpture work right now is bugs, in steel and bronze interacting with a mix media environment.

What inspires you?

My own imagination inspires my work, as well as what I have experienced in life. Talking to other artists I find myself thinking of more ways that I could create something that is visually interesting and can tell an interesting story. It’s a little bit of everything from the mundane to even something so complicated at emotions to difficult events in life.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have always wanted to be an artist, there was never a time in my life were I serious considered another path to walk. I find that I can express myself easier in a visual manner. I always felt the need to challenge myself and am willing to take the chance of failure to find my way.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I think the only thing that I could think of is my signature which is my initials. I write out MJ with a crazy flourish in the “J.”

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just make art. If your stuck take a break and get your hands into something you don’t have to think about. I find that if I’m stuck on a piece a nap helps, or a walk too. Its okay to want to try a wide range of things but finding the media that works the best with you is a great place to start, because learning the inside outs of that area will make your work get just that much better. I still have a lot to learn, I’m not even broken into the business side of the art world yet.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an asexual. I used to think that I was a Demi but after thinking critically about myself I found that the title didn’t fit with me.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I find that it can be subtle sometimes when talking with artists about their work when it’s solely focused on sex and I don’t always understand their reasoning. Most people I know and work around don’t bring up their own personal sexualities so I haven’t either.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That we asexually reproduce. Though I wish I could clone myself, because that would be more hands working on a project. Then more work could be done… but then I’d have to feed more of my selves and that would get far to complicated.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I’ve never been one to overthink what I am, for a long time when people asked what I was I would say a question mark. It wasn’t something that mattered to me until I was a bit order and around people that already understood themselves to such a point of having a label. When I was in high school it rather overwhelmed me when I started to do reach, and that was the same time I first found the title of Ace. I quickly forgot about it, finding that I wasn’t ready to think to much about who I was. In college, I am in a period of self-reflection so it fit. I found the title and am slowly getting used to wearing it. I love having a label now, I enjoy having a flag and a community of close friends that I can be around. I would suggest having a support net work if you can, or even one online if that’s the safest option for you.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

My Instagram is the best place to follow my work! I do a lot of things and would love to share it with more people: Jerofkm.

Thank you, McKenzie, for participating in this interview and this project. It is very much appreciated.

Interview: Shona Fitz-Gerald Laing

Today we’re joined by Shona Fitz-Gerald Laing. Shona is an amazingly talented mixed media sculptor who specializes in metal. She dabbles in a number of other artistic fields, but sculpture is where her heart lies. There’s a truly amazing amount of detail and texture in her work, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m largely a mixed media sculpture artist with a focus on metal. Throughout my work I use crystal imagery as a way to discuss the anxiety of the relationship between the organic and the inorganic, and how that anxiety lends itself to a narrative of personal experiences of being caught “in-between”.

On the side I sketch, paint, and write novels and poetry that are often included in my installations through titles and accompanying works.

What inspires you?

I’ve based my recent work around the term tenalach, which is loosely used to describe ones relationship with the earth. I draw my inspiration from hiking in the Rocky Mountains, local flora and fauna, gemstones (particularly quartz), and local landscapes. I like things that don’t fit into strict categories.

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

My parents were interested in giving me a well-rounded education, so art lessons were always a thing for me when I was a kid. For the longest time I thought I would be a doctor, so I didn’t decide I “wanted to be an artist” until later in high school.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I create monochromatic work as a way to subvert the understanding in art that white, whiteness, and minimalism are the purest form of artistic creation (it stems from modernism, the emergence of the “white cube gallery”, and theoretical writings such as “Ornament and Crime” by Adolf Loos – it’s SUPER problematic let me tell you). I use whiteness – traditionally coded as masculine – to explore the complexity of colour and texture, which are traditionally coded feminine.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try everything. The artist I was in high school isn’t the artist I was in undergrad, and the artist I was in undergrad isn’t the artist I am now. Allow yourself to be flexible and brave, you don’t know you what you’re capable of making if you don’t experiment regularly.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual/Aromantic

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Frequently, more so as a grad student than a professional artist. Because grad students are playing out a specific life path that traditionally includes having a partner, there are definitely expectations from colleagues and faculty to be settling down with someone. Most of my peers are in long term relationships, and it’s just not something I have any interest in. As an artist, the conversation usually comes up around the overt link between sexuality and art-making that is frequently sited in art discourse. Because my art doesn’t directly reference my sexuality, I can usually bypass most arguments with pointed rhetorical questions or my favourite phrase “that’s a nice opinion you got there”.

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What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That life is incomplete without a sexual partner/that sex is an integral and irreplaceable part of human experience. It’s a personal favourite. My friend, if all you need is a sexual partner, you’re the one who’s missing out.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Being able to defend yourself (and your sexuality) takes a lot of courage and time. It’s not easy telling people you love that they’re wrong, and it takes a lot of work to be able to learn and speak about sexualities in a coherent and sensible way. I know it’s frustrating, but it’ll happen. I promise that there will come a time when you’ll be able to turn to your friend/family member/stranger and ashamedly tell them they’re being problematic.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Website: shonafitzgeraldlaing.com

Tumblr: slaing-art.tumblr.com (infrequently updated)

Instagram: shona.f.laing (updated often but mostly pictures of my hikes, studio progress and cat)

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Thank you, Shona, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.