Kristin McIver is an Australian artist based in New York working in sculpture, painting, sound, video and installation. She also runs KRS Creative, an agency making websites and crafting digital marketing campaigns for very cool clients. On the eve of her first major solo exhibition closing in New York, we speak to Kristin about her exhibit ‘Impressions‘ (which is a MUST SEE), what brought her to New York and her go-to neighborhood spots in Bed-Stuy.
When did you land in New York, Kristin?
I moved to New York from Melbourne 7 years ago. As an artist I was drawn to New York’s art scene, cultural diversity and boundless energy.
Tell us about a recent win you had?
I recently launched my first major solo exhibition in New York at Jane Lombard Gallery, titled ‘Impressions’. The show is open until April 3rd and is something I have dreamt of and built towards for years so it feels like a great achievement, especially after an uncertain and tumultuous 12 months with the pandemic.
Wow – congrats! Tell us more about your show!
‘Impressions’ features minimalist moving image sculptures, which highlight this
concept of fragmented knowledge and multiple truths through the visual
representation of bodies of water. The exhibition explores an evolving relationship between data and narrative. I have combined found text and climate data algorithms to generate word sequences bound to environmental context, which are then excerpted and re-imaged as textbased neon sculptures. This use of algorithms is also prevalent in my large scale video installations, that combine moving image, natural objects and strategically placed mirrors to create uncertain spaces, prompting the viewer to question their own lived experience within the work.
Tell us some of your observations about how New York – the city of connection – came to a stop during the COVID-19 pandemic-
New York was hit extremely hard early on, and it was sad to see such an energetic city grind to a halt, with restaurants closing, shops shuttered and thousands of residents fleeing the city, rendering Manhattan a ghost town. For those that are still here, I feel things are simply in a period of hibernation and as we emerge from winter the outlook feels more positive. The spirit of New York will burn bright again, perhaps in new and creative ways.
What has it been like for you during this time? Tell us one thing you are grateful for, and one challenge you have faced.
I am thankful for my community and friends – my ‘Covid Survival Crew’. We found ways to safely socialize throughout the pandemic, such as going for long bike rides to the beach, or sitting on the stoop with a to-go cocktail. In terms of challenges – aside from the anxiety, sleepless nights and physical disconnectedness that everyone has faced – I really can’t complain. I’ve managed to maintain my health and income, so things could be worse.
Many people have left New York City during the pandemic. Did you think about fleeing the city during this time, and if so, where did you consider going and what made you stay?
For a brief moment when the government suggested the airports might close I considered returning to Australia, but quickly realized that I did not want to give up all I”ve worked hard to achieve here and the life I have built here. I came to New York for life experience, and while this has certainly been more ‘experience’ than I anticipated, I will never forget New York 2020!
Where do you live? Why did you choose that area?
I live in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. I chose this area because it has a great sense of community. It is like living in a village, with one of the most interesting, global cities in the world right at your doorstep. Often on the weekends, I don’t leave the neighborhood. I’ll leave for a coffee in the morning, then by chance may not return until midnight because I ran into someone, then went to an art show, then a block party.
What do you like or dislike about living in NY?
I love New York because you can be having a bad day, exhausted, from trudging around on the subway, in cold, snowy, blizzard conditions (those are the moments I dislike!), and then encounter a beautiful moment – a jazz musician on the subway, a skateboarder or a stranger helping another. And it really lifts your spirits.
Share with us an ‘only in New York’ moment?
We had been waiting nearly 2 weeks to find out the election results, after 10 months living with the pandemic. I had given up watching the news and was washing the dishes. All of a sudden I heard an eruption of cheers in the street and knew the result had been called. From that moment at 11am, crowds of people were literally dancing in the streets through to midnight.
Any advice for people moving to NY?
Be prepared for a wild ride. Be prepared to work hard. And be prepared to be rewarded in the most unexpected and magical ways.
What do you do for work and what advice do you have for other Aussies working in New York?
I am a professional visual artist, and I also run a website design agency. Compared to Australia, it certainly does feel like business moves at a faster pace. The demands are high, but there are so many opportunities. If you hit the right note, things can snowball. If you are confident, assertive, and believe in what you do, people respond. For the most part, professionalism is paired with a lightheartedness. People don’t take themselves too seriously and there is a nice honesty in that.
What’s your favourite New York spot?
There is a little spot on the East River where you can sit on a swing and watch the sun set behind the two bridges (Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge).
What do you miss most about Australia?
My family and friends, and the beaches! This has been made harder since the pandemic as Australia has never felt further away.
Share your top tips for friends visiting NYC?
- Don’t stick to an itinerary
- Walk around or hire a Citi Bike. Travelling above ground you will see the city and culture change as you move through different neighborhoods. New York will always reveal its treasures and lead you into the most unexpected places.
- Speak to people. New Yorkers are so friendly and always have a story.
Favorite NYC brunch spot
Saraghina in Brooklyn
Favorite NYC cocktail spot & cocktail of choice
Lovers Rock in Bed-Stuy, their Rum ‘n’ Ting is amazing!
What do you like about being part of AWNY?
I’m always inspired hearing about other inspiring women doing amazing things, and feeling a part of a community which feels like home.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about living/working in NYC?
When I first moved here, a good friend who had been here for 10 years told me to always say yes. If you follow this ethos, you’ll walk out the door in the morning, and through a few chance encounters, end up at 3am at a bar in conversation with Robert De Niro. That exact scenario has yet to happen, but I have followed this ethos and ended up having some of the best days of my life.
Who are some Aussie/Kiwi ladies currently on your radar?
Two ladies I admire (among many!) are Melissa Amore, an incredible writer, philosopher and curator doing big things here, also Jessica Holburn, a talented writer, curator and poet who is an inspiration!
See Kristin’s exhibit at Jane Lombard Gallery until April 3, 2021.
And if you miss it in New York, know that this exhibition is the first iteration of a 3-part series which will also get to MARS Gallery (Melbourne) and Royale Projects (Los Angeles). Utilizing the forms of water, earth and fire respectively, each show engages the climatic effects of global warming most pertinent to the galleries’ specific locations.