Interview: Kirsten McCrea / Papirmasse / Maison Kasini… TOGETHER AT LAST!

Post image for Interview: Kirsten McCrea / Papirmasse / Maison Kasini… TOGETHER AT LAST!

by Robotkin on January 17, 2011

“Art is Food…Feed the People”, and last week, per the motto of Galerie Maison Kasini, I had the great privilege of feasting with Montreal based drawing lady extraordinaire, Kirsten McCrea (KM), along with gallery owners Ric Kasini Kadour (RK) and Christopher Byrne, on the subject of Papirmasse, drawing, and accessible art for the people!

Bon appetite!

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from left: ric , christopher, kirsten

JB: What is Papirmasse?

KM: Papirmasse is an art subscription…we deliver an art print to subscribers’ mailboxes for five dollars per month, so the goal is to get contemporary art circulating the world at an affordable price.

JB: Has drawing always been a part of your practice?

KM: Yeah…I’m one of those people who have been drawing since I was four years old.  For a long time I considered myself more of a painter, but in recent years I’ve moved more towards an illustrative style.  I’ve noticed most of what I’m doing is basically drawing with a paintbrush… very graphic stuff.  I’ve been drawing a lot recently…it’s always been there in the background, but it’s definitely coming into the foreground again.

JB: How have Papirmasse activities affected your practice…have they had an impact on how and what you draw?

KM: I used a lot of my own art in the first year, with past issues involving a heavy drawing component (Feb., April).  What’s exciting for me now is we’re using a different artist for every month…that has really opened up the scope of what we’re exploring. The first one (Jan 2011) is a drawing by Jeff Kulak. Using a ball of sting and tape, he then creates a form on the wall using those two very unconventional drawing mediums, which he then photographs, and then translates that into an illustrator file.  Next we’re using a collage artist, and a photographer after that… we’re hoping to use a sculptor…we have a real range of work this year.

JB: The project began in 2009, at which point you did all this solo.  Then you took a break in 2010, and have now started again in 2011.  This is a good point to introduce Ric Kasini Kadour from the Galerie Maison Kasini…tell us how you got involved with Kirsten and Papirmasse

RK: Sure…Maison Kasini as a gallery and business has been around for a number of years, predated by a company called Kasini House which exists in the states.  A part of our philosophy is exploring ways to make art and culture work, and one of the things that excites us about the Papirmasse project is its affordability and accessibility to a broader public…it’s a way to remove contemporary art from the privileged white cube and put it out there for the masses…that’s a huge part of what we’re about.

How we met…I don’t remember how we met…

KM: Through Monika from Youth Employment Services (YES)…I was at YES to have an artist consultation with the artist who works there, and she was like “you should talk to these guys”… I brought a folio in a [to the gallery], and I think you approached me about partnering up on the project…it’s all a blur

RK: I we had brought Papirmasse and the 2009 folio into the shop, and then as we got to talking, we were like; “why aren’t you doing this again”, and Kirsten was like; “I know!  Why aren’t I doing this again?!”.  So we talked, and found that not only was there a clear collaboration there, where we could bring some infrastructure, and some administrative support, as well as the idea of the gallery as a physical home of Papirmasse…it just seemed to work, plus Kirsten is a joy to work with, and I’m not…she puts up with me.

JB: I’m curious about a quote on the website, where you situate yourselves in “Your preferred place in the trenches of popular culture” [emphasis mine]…expand on that…what are these trenches?

KB: Yeah… I’d been in this gallery once before, and was super stoked on it because when you go through the Belgo there is a lot of really high brow art that has a lot of conceptual ideas behind it.  I’m happy that that stuff exists, but that’s not the kind of art that I want to engage with.  In this gallery…this is so cool, there’s awesome little art objects, and it’s all very accessible … it’s a fun space!

That’s kind of what I see Papirmasse as being…I have a real range of work… I’m not afraid of having stuff that maybe is a little bit minimalist or something, but overall, it veers more into illustration…work that is accessible, fun and interesting to look at…that’s what we’re going for.

RK: I see what Papirmasse is trying to do, and also what we’re trying to do with the gallery, is to bridge that gap between pop/mass culture and the ‘highbrow’ traditional culture of art.

I think there is a point that art went off in a very esoteric, almost academic journey (70’s -80’s).  There’s a lot of great stuff there… a lot of great art theory… it can be very exciting and energizing if you’re into it and have the tools and means to access it.  But the flip side is that as it went in that direction, I think art became harder and harder for art to have meaning in the daily lives of people.

It’s hard to look at a minimalist painting and have a strong emotional reaction to it. It’s even harder to live with that minimalist painting for 10- 30 years in your house and still have a strong emotional reaction to it. I think that one of the ways that contemporary art is trying to figure itself out right now is in how do you not just ‘lowbrow’ yourself and go to the lowest common denominator, but rather use this kind of wonderful 20th century history of art to make a kind of work that is smart and meaningful…work that has impact, but also is such that people can live with it, that is not necessarily art for museums, but art for peoples homes.

What’s great about Papirmasse is that it comes in your mailbox, automatically… you don’t have to think about it…it’s a way to explore the experience of art not only outside of the gallery, outside of the museum, but in the mail…that’s just kind of fun and different…it’s the future of contemporary art.  Most of us see so much more art on the Internet than in real life… this builds on that…finding the different way to experience art…building that bridge in the trenches of mass culture…doing that, and not just doing something that is dumb and trite or meaningless, just for the sake of pumping stuff out there.

KM: I don’t know if this is a new thing, but I feel people are afraid to have an opinion about art.  With this I hope to say to people that there is no expert…you’re the expert …I hope that over the course of the year you get one piece you totally love, and one that you absolutely hate! Strong emotions are exciting… feel free to decide if you love it or not… take ownership over your experience of art.

JB: Talk about the future for own practice, as it’s now intertwined with Papirmasse, and this entire project entails?

KM: I have mass confusion in terms of my own artwork: I’m doing Papirmasse, painting with EN MASSE, and still trying to make some money working as freelance illustrator, but I’ve put no effort into that lately.

I haven’t had time to paint for a couple months, so I think today Is going to be the day that I get to go back and do some more painting, and I have this body of work that I want to create. It’s a bit of challenge balancing all of that, but I’m excited to spend the next couple months working on Papirmasse and painting and really focusing on that again.

I want to make a series of 6’ tall paintings of atom bomb explosions with the kind of patterning I do…really decorative-beautiful-atomic-bomb-mushroom-clouds…really stoked on this idea…more drawing with paint!

JB: Gorgeous!

Go Eat!

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