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Art & Life with Kirsten Reynolds

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kirsten Reynolds.

Kirsten, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Installation art has been my primary focus for the past 15 years, though I have also worked in photography, video, painting and printmaking. The installations began while I was making a series of small, brightly colored sculptures that looked like peculiar, biomorphic creatures. It didn’t seem right to place them on a pedestal like a traditional sculpture – they needed a whole environment that mirrored the sculpture’s qualities as both familiar and yet strange. 

The first installation, “In The Room With It,” came into being when I combined an oozy looking biomorphic sculpture perched on a tilted pile of foam wood, facing a large yellow wall with a single peephole. As viewers looked through the peephole, they could see a light bulb, black string dangling from a single oversize tack in the wall and a spattering of black drips on the floor. Architecture became the device for suggesting a messy, mysterious incident with the “creature” as witness and perhaps perpetrator.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Like an absurd theatrical tableau, my architectural installations and sculptures appear poised in a moment between creation and imminent collapse. The architectural structures of my current work are made of brightly colored panels and/or bent wood arcs attached to 2×4 frames. Illusory tactics of painting such as the painted faux wood grain and printed patterns derived from origami paper complicate the installation’s physical presence. By transforming the materials into playful exaggerations of the real, the installations appear as if they emerged from a cartoonish, parallel world. This comedic quality presents an unstable space between fact and fiction. As the viewer enters the installation, they become a participant in the irresolvable narrative.

Designing and building each installation is an extensive, multi-step process. I begin each project by building a small-scale model of the gallery and then working through various configurations of possible installations. The design is finalized when it transforms the gallery into a performative experience and presents intriguing challenges for how viewer negotiates the space. I photograph these installation scale models to present the design and also as the basis for my silkscreen prints: this is another body of 2d work where I explore new spatial relationships. After months of preparatory work, which includes painting and printing all of the materials and preassembling the structural frames, I build the installation in the exhibit space. The first time I see the installation completely finished is when it is finally installed in the gallery.

Any advice for aspiring or new artists?
So often, there is an assumption that artists do their best creative work alone in their studio. However, I’ve found just the opposite is true. Connecting to a community that challenges, supports and is engaged with art is so important for continuing to grow as an artist, both creatively and professionally. Graduate school, artist residencies, gallery affiliations, teaching, exhibitions of your work, a network of artists, enthusiasts and patrons and most importantly, actively supporting a strong creative community in your neighborhood, pushes you and other artists forward.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I exhibit my installations, sculptures and prints in a wide-range of national venues. Most recently, I exhibited a new installation “Spin” at the Boston Sculptors Gallery from December 2017 to January 2018. Wall mounted faux architectural “fragments” available for purchase were also on view. Other exhibitions include the McIninch Gallery, Southern New Hampshire University, NH, the Blue Star Contemporary Museum, TX; the Currier Museum of Art, NH and the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, MA, among others. I am currently preparing for an exhibit at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, NH that will open October 2018.

Teaching is also connected to my studio practice, whether through workshop presentations, lectures or as artist in residence. This past fall, I was artist in residence, exhibiting artist and instructor at Southern New Hampshire University and this spring, I will be working with children in grades k-4th at the Warren Village School, Warren, NH to teach them how to create their own site-specific architectural installation. Sharing art in this way has been an incredible experience.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kirsten Reynolds
Simon Scheiss

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