Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kirsten Reynolds Interview

One of my intentions with blogging is to give insight into the impact the Artist Advancement Grant has had on past recipients.  This month's profile features Kirsten Reynolds, the 2007 recipient of the AAG. 

Kirsten Reynolds in her studio

How would you describe your work?

I create site-specific installations and sculpture that explore the interconnections between architecture, language and the body.  Using gestures of clownish absurdity, my work raises questions about their essential nature to reconsider them as processes, rather than objects, in the act of becoming. 

Architectural structures and biomorphic sculptures, poised in a moment between perpetual construction and imminent collapse, form a theatrical tableau  The viewer can enter the installations, becoming a participant in an irresolvable narrative.  Vivid colors and patterns, inspired by Japanese origami paper designs, cover the installation’s panels and floorboards.  The materials and methods of construction seem obvious yet elude conclusions.  While appearing solid, the wood, bricks and panels that are actually made of foam boards that I individually paint with faux wood grain finishes and silkscreen print with pattern.  The tacks, mops, rags and black drips cluttering the space around the architectural structures, are also exaggerated reproductions, and as such, absurd functional failures.

Full view of "The Former Mistake" at the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH

What was your grant proposal?

I wrote the grant proposal with short and long-term goals in mind.  In the immediate, I had become a new mother and was searching for ways to advance my art practice while adjusting to the schedule constraints of being a primary caretaker. Because creating the stock materials (the printed and painted foam boards) for my installation projects is very time consuming, I felt it would be a tremendous benefit to hire an assistant who could do most of the production work.  I hoped this would enable me to make the most of my studio time by working to increase the visibility of my work, developing proposals for new installations, meeting with curators and arts professionals, commissioning a portfolio website and visiting galleries. I also allocated a portion of my grant budget to cover the cost of part-time daycare so I could depend on a regular schedule for my work.  

Did you stick with your grant proposal or did you make adjustments to your plan?

Overall, I did stick with my plan.  Due to the fortunate and unexpected invitations to create installations for the DeCordova Museum, Lincoln MA and the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH, that same year, I spent more in production mode than I originally planned, even with the help of an assistant!

Entrance to "The Former Mistake" at the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH

What kind of impact did receiving the AAG have on you and your work?

Due to the support of the AAG, I was able to greatly expand the scale and scope of my work, providing a new benchmark for future projects. Outsourcing some of the installation’s production by working with an assistant became an invaluable opportunity to learn how to manage large-scale projects – an essential skill for my work to grow and be exhibited in a variety of venues.  Now, when I prepare proposals, I can confidently conceptualize and organize the project, beginning with the scale model of the installation to planning the production and installation schedules, budgets, shipping etc.    

Detail of "The Former Mistake"

How has your work developed in the years since receiving the AAG?

I have continued to create large-scale installations, while also diversifying my work to include silkscreen prints based on the architectural scale models of the installations.  Using the photographs of the models as a template, I translate the original installation proposal into a graphic design that juxtaposes architectural forms, pattern and implied movement in new ways.  The final designs often reference a mixture between the Baroque sensibility, 20th century constructivism and Japanese Kawaii (or contemporary aesthetic of cuteness).  
Detail of "The Other Last Moment" at the Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo, NY

Do you continue to apply for other grants and have you received any? 

Since the AAG, I have received the Artist Resource Trust Grant, from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, as well as a full fellowship to attend the Vermont Studio Center Residency.  

What are you working on now?

I completed a new installation for the exhibit, “Home Sweet Home,” on view at the Montserrat College Gallery of Art from November 2011 to January 2012, weeks before I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, named Elsa! She is now 4 months old and I’m returning to my studio to continue work on the silkscreen prints. 

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