Updated: Jul 21
Soft Magical Realism: An Interview with Kansas-based artist Andrew Mcilvaine
採訪編輯 Editor｜謝蕎安 Joanne Hsieh
翻譯 Translation by | Joyce Lee
圖 Image courtesy｜Andrew Mcilvaine 提供
Kansas City, Missouri
Hi Andrew, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am originally from San Antonio, Texas. I was born and raised in the Wheatley Courts projects, and around the time I was about 5, myself, my older brother, and my mom moved from Texas to a small town in Missouri called Joplin.
I currently live and have a practice in Kansas City, Missouri. There is a lot of fun things here, you have the river market, arts district, west bottoms, midtown, plaza, waldo. A lot of area to cover. The Nelson Atkins Museum is a most if you are in the area, as well as the Nerman Contemporary Museum in OP, and the Kemper Contemporary. If you are looking for independent galleries the Crossroads or the West Bottoms are probably, your best bet. Food is a loaded question, but KC is known for their BBQ and Sports.
How would you describe your own work?
I would probably describe my work to a stranger as soft magical realism. Tender conceptually yet realistic in aesthetic, with fantastical undertones. If it was a cocktail, I think it would be a gin drink in a rocks glass, with hints of pine and rose. If it was dog, probably an Italian greyhound (I own two, and they are beautiful but mysterious creatures).
How long have you been making art?
I have been making art since I was a kid. I do not know when exactly, but when I was quite young. I kind of grew up with experiencing a lot of art through my interactions with my dad. He at the time was in prison in San Antonio and my only communication with him was through hand drawn images, and letters. So, he would send me images he made while locked up, and I would draw and write back to him in a similar manner. Although art was always a part of my life, I did not really think art was a serious thing. I didn’t even know what a museum was until I was a sophomore in college. Early creative start, but not really an early exposure to the history of it all culturally.
經由 失去 所感受到的寂靜
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a lot of different projects right now. I just finished a body of work called <<<Movement>>>, which is a reflection of my mother’s family and seeks to tell a multi-generational story about their transition from Mexico to the United States, and ultimately the history before my conception leading all the way up to the present day. I just started making a body of work focusing on paintings made from baby lotion, candy, and colored pencil shavings called Tender Thoughts. Also, have another project that focuses on charcoal drawings of figures preforming manual labor on materials like terracotta slabs and concrete blocks called Solid Poetry. A lot to do...
What are the themes you explore through art?
Common themes of my work include notions such as longing, self-refection regarding my Identity, family history, belonging, trauma, displacement, replacement, and assimilation.
What is it you want the viewer to take away from your work?
I guess what I want the viewer to take away from my work is something emotional, something that is deeper than the surface. Ultimately, I want people to think about silence felt through loss, access, representation, and participation.
What are some of your favorite mediums to work with?
I think my favorite medium to work with is clay. I am not a ceramicist though. The education I have received mainly focuses on painting and drawing, specifically oil painting. For me painting is very much a love hate relationship filled with passion and tension. I was instantly taken away by painting the first time I went to a museum, it is something about viscosity, texture, opacity, and its ability to reflect or mimic reality. I have always enjoyed the trompe'loeil aspect of painting, the illusion of space and form. Clay is different though. It has the ability to feel much more intimate as a medium. Painting is the soul, whereas clay is the body. I like them both and it is getting increasingly harder to see them apart.
How do you choose the palette for each piece of painting/ sculpture?
Palettes are different every time I make a painting. Sometimes they are muted or monochromatic, other times they are bright and very saturated. I think the subject has always helped me choose the right palette. If something needs to be more quiet, slowed down, or more emotional for example, usually color becomes more subtle and toned down like a monochromatic palette.
What inspires your aesthetic choices?
I think as a contemporary artist, history always comes back up for me when thinking about aesthetics. Trying to understand how paintings have worked previously in-order to activate a specific feeling. It might be a certain action, object, or way in which space has been viewed previously. I think about this as remixing or recontextualization. Does something need to feel religious, then I may look at how figures have been illustrated in the renaissance period. Or if something needs to look more iconic, I may look at how Warhol approaches an object or subject. There’s always a bit of research before getting into a body of work.
Do you have a favorite body of work made by another artist?
安德魯：「這是一個需要思考很久的問題，我們有幾天可以聊？拉法．埃斯帕爾薩（Rafa Esparza）在 Commonwealth and Council 畫廊展出的新作系列，在概念上和美學上都無比強勁。傑米．穆諾茲（Jaime Munoz）的作品也相當了不起。麥可．爾格（Michael Krueger）在堪薩斯城的 Haw Contemporary 畫廊展出的新作系列 (Just Like) Starting Over 則是令人歎為觀止。而奈西米亞．西斯奈洛（Nehemiah Cisnero）的畫展 Violent by Design，令人感到震驚、強而有力、又深具影響力。」
Favorite body of work is another loaded question. How many days do we have? Rafa Esparza's new body of work shown at the Commonwealth and Council is beyond powerful in conception and aesthetic. Jaime Munoz's work is incredible. Michael Krueger's new body of work (Just Like) Starting Over at Haw Contemporary in KC was/is breathtaking, and Nehemiah Cisneros's show 'Violent By Design' is jaw dropping, strong, and impactful.
Who inspire you?
SO many people inspire me! For writers I would say Octavio Paz, Gloria Anzaldua, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Artist would be Kahinde Wiley, Felix Gonzalez Torres, Rafa Esparza, Njedeka Crosby, Alfonso Gonzalez, and Wangechi Mutu.
Do you collect anything?
I collect a lot of things. I collect rocks from places I have been, fossils, shells, currently a lot of plants, pieces of the street like huge chunks of asphalt or concrete fragments. I collect art, coins, arrowheads. Haha probably more things than I would like to admit. I like the history attached to things though!
What do you like to do outside of studio practice?
Favorite activity was probably drawing inside. Sports whether that be for a school or just for fun was a huge part of my life growing up too. Skateboarding by far is my favorite outside activity now. It has a huge impact on my practice and how I think about things creatively. It goes as far as how I look at a set of stairs differently or a handrail or even a curb. You can use things in so many different manners. And each time you change the way you handle it or approach it, that thing becomes something new and unique.
What are some challenges you've faced working as an artist?
I think there is a lot of challenges that exist for artists. For me, my most challenging moment was after leaving WashU in St. Louis. The point in your life where there is a lot of unknown regarding what you will do to make money, where you may need to travel in order to find a job. Gaining access to opportunities can be challenging for any artist starting out. My best memory/experience was showcasing my body of work at Habitat Contemporary in January. That was the first time in an actual space where I have presented a body of work in a solo fashion. The conversations that were created through that work and the community I have started to build from it are priceless.
What motivates you to keep making art?
Life, I guess. This idea of growth or realization of one’s own potential can be very inspiring. Knowing that you as the artist have the ability and privilege to present your thoughts to a public and engage in these larger and more inner-connective conversations about what it means to be human.
What's your favorite pastime?
Skate. (sorry this answer keeps coming back up)
What's the best advice you've received?
Keep making and do not stop!
Can you recommend a book or a documentary?
100 years of solitude (book) and Buried Truth of the Maya (Documentary).
Short term goal would land an artist residency in Mexico City, and my long term goal is to keep making work and teaching students about the importance of making, and telling their stories.
Andrew Mcilvaine received his BA in studio art from UMKC, and MFA in painting and drawing from WashU in St. Louis. Mcilvaine has taught at MCCKC, UMKC, and currently hold a visiting lecturer position at KCAI in the Foundation program.
Special thanks to Andrew Mcilvaine
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