FEATURED ARTIST | MAY 2013
Bio: From the Pacific Northwest, Kristen Cochran moved to Texas to complete her MFA at The Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in 2010. She has exhibited in the Pacific Northwest, Texas and New York, and has works in private collections in Italy and London. In Texas, Kristen has exhibited at CentralTrak, Oliver Francis Gallery, Barry Whistler Gallery, Eastfield College, RE gallery + studio, WAAS Gallery and Women & Their Work for the 2011 Texas Biennial. She has been awarded residencies in Long Island City, NY, Mittersill, Austria and recently been awarded the Jentel residency in Wyoming, commencing summer 2013. Kristen presently teaches drawing and sculpture at the University of Texas at Dallas and has taught at Southern Methodist University, The Nasher Sculpture Center and The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Her site-specific installation “Vacuum Drawing and MTV – Mapping the Void Limp Grid” was also featured in the April/Art issue of FD Luxe in an article titled “The Original Arts District Arisen” written by Dr. Charissa Terranova and photographed by Nan Coulter.
Hometown: Home-hometown is Portland, Oregon, but Seattle, where I went to undergrad, is a close second.
Favorite Dallas hangout: I don’t have one fave hangout in Dallas. I enjoy being at home, having friends over and trying new, off the beaten path restaurants. Being from the Pacific Northwest requires that I love a good cup of coffee and as a result, I can be found drinking coffee at one of Dallas’s artisanal coffee shops (finally!). I like Oak Cliff quite a bit. Its more provisional, modest character and the walkability around Bishop Arts reminds me of parts of Portland, Austin, and Seattle. Bolsa Mercado and Oddfellows are fun, tasty and aesthetically interesting spots to grab a bite to eat.
AHD: What will readers find when they visit "stutter slip stack," your first solo exhibition at RE gallery + studio in what's being haled Dallas' edgiest arts district, The Cedars?
KC: What they will find is a show primarily made up of drawings and paintings from across the last year or so. These works are conceptually driven, process-oriented, abstract works that relate to my interest in language. They result from a process of looking for a lexicon of meaningful characters with which to communicate. If visitors come to the sculpture studio, they will find a gritty wonderland of in-progress works that relate to drawings in the show.
AHD: You came down from the Pacific Northwest to complete an MFA at the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU, but you've since stayed on to produce a substantive body of contemporary work. What about Dallas' creative community kept you?
KC: My decision to remain in Dallas after graduate school was, at first, less about Dallas’ creative community and more about the job opportunities that arose for me. I was invited to teach at SMU and at UTD the semester following graduation and wanted to try my hand at teaching. Happily, over the past few years, I’ve been able to witness and be a part of the opportunities to show and curate work here in Dallas. The grassroots efforts of local artists in addition to the amount of accessible, open space is a great combination for an artist like me who enjoys responding to particular sites and their unique material and historical resources.
AHD: Following your closing reception at RE gallery + studio, you're swapping The Cedars for the Lower Piney Creek Valley and the prestigious Jentel Artist Residency in Banner, Wyoming. How do you anticipate the change in atmosphere will affect you?
KC: I’m super excited about the upcoming residency. My residency proposal involved engaging what I’ve called ‘sites of clearing’: spaces and places in between deconstruction and reconstruction. A residency experience is, by nature, a liminal one. Banner, Wyoming is a tiny town set within a vast, cattle-laden wilderness. I don’t know how I will feel once I arrive and engage such wide open physical, creative and perhaps emotional and spiritual space but I’m sure excited to find out. I believe that this residency is a gift and it’s been given at just the right time.
AHD: Why is it important for active creatives to go on an occasional retreat?
KC: To maintain sanity. To rest their weary, introverted selves and hypersensitive, overstimulated souls. I think that artists can benefit greatly from the focused time and space that a relatively unstructured residency such as Jentel affords. Not to mention the creative sparks that often fly for me when I deviate from the deeply trodden paths of my everyday life and take a break from what is familiar.
AHD: You often play with language in your work, your current show being no exception. What is it about the topic that intrigues you so, and why are you hoping to cause a "branguage leakdown?"
I’m not hoping to cause a breakdown in language necessarily—but I do like creating work that is, to some degree, visually and cognitively confusing. Not to aggravate but to emphasize the experience of engaging the unknown and perhaps, in an effort to create an equitable viewing experience in which everyone (educated and uneducated, art-aware and art-naïve, rich and poor) is apt to be scratching their heads in wonder.
AHD: When you talk about bridging gaps and mapping voids, you seem to suggest present-day fractures and perhaps a past or soon-to-be wholeness regained. How do these concepts relate to everyday life and the relationships we keep?
KC: Yes, I am interested in what you’re calling present day fractures. I might call them states of fragmentation, dislocation, lost-ness or blindness. It seems to me that culture, technology and industry encourage states of distraction, disorientation, wandering and flux and many folks have adopted these states of being as normal, even productive or necessary. Mapping voids in three-dimensional space or on two-dimensional drawing surfaces is a metaphorical act that relates to the human experience of mapping the unknown and engaging empty spaces or territories of loss. And there, in the void, creating a new, living thing.
AHD: What's your favorite hangout for thinking, making things and spending time with friends?
Favorite hangout for thinking: an airplane
Favorite place to make things: usually my home studio or my sculpture studio at the Quonset huts.
With good friends: I gravitate towards quieter places where conversation can be well-heard.
AHD: Where can we go to find out more about your current show, follow your forthcoming work, and possibly sit in on a lecture or two?
My website: kristencochran.com
My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kristen.cochran.3
The REgallery website: regallerystudio.com
REgallery Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RE-gallery-studio