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Monday
Jul082019

Spotlight on: Mackenzie Kelly-Frère

The Alberta Craft Gallery - Calgary is hosting the work of Mackenzie Kelly-Frère from July 11 to August 24, 2019 as part of our monthly Spotlight Series. The series provides a unique opportunity to see and invest in the work of accomplished/esteemed Alberta Craft Artists.

Mackenzie is an artist, educator, and writer… and you could say he seamlessly weaves all of these roles into one large, spotlight worthy piece of art. 

He is an Associate Professor in the School of Craft & Emerging Media at the Alberta University of the Arts, he contributes texts to various Canadian and international publications, and his work has been exhibited throughout Canada, China, Japan, Korean, and the United States. Lucky for us, he bases his practice out of Calgary and we were able to ask him some questions about who he is and why he creates.

 

Alberta Craft Council (ACC): Who are you, and what do you do?

Mackenzie Kelly-Frère (MKF): I am a descendant of settler culture living in Treaty Seven Territory. I make cloth and teach people to weave and think through textiles. My fascination with the material culture of textiles and passion for cloth's potential as a tool for communication drives my work at the loom and in the studio classroom.

ACC: What theme(s) or ideas(s) do you pursue in your work?

MKF: My work is rooted in material culture and in particular, the social history of cloth. Cloth is an object that embodies care, protection and even the body itself. Increasingly I am interested in how cloth may communicate particular ideas related to the precarity of the human condition. Handwoven cloth provides specific metaphors for entanglement, connection, and contingency that make it the perfect medium to explore complex ideas. I often work in series and these bodies of work are usually thematic, investigating a particular idea. The depth of knowledge embodied by cloth makes it an inexhaustible resource for new ways of thinking and being in the world. This is why I weave.

 

 

ACC: Who taught you your craft?

MKF: I have had many direct and indirect teachers. Bill Morton taught me to pay attention, Katharine Dickerson taught me patience and Sandra Alfoldy taught me there is tangible, irrepressible joy in the story of craft. The weaving of other artists like Jun Tomita, Chiyoko Tanaka has given me something to aim for in my own work. Without exception, however, my best teachers are my students. Each day they renew my own curiosity and love for textiles with their excitement and the deep insight of their beginners' mind.

ACC: How has your practice changed over time?

MKF: I have been weaving for more than twenty years. In that time the themes and ideas in my work have remained fairly constant, but my work has gained considerable refinement, focus and clarity. I am better at the technical details of my craft, but not necessarily as restricted by them. It is exciting to now have enough experience in weaving to engage in something that feels like improvisation. Something that would never have been possible for me ten years ago.

ACC: What is your favourite thing to make?

MKF: Thread, yarn and cordage. Occasionally I have the opportunity and a good reason to create my own threads for a weaving or knitting project. For me, this is probably the most satisfying contemplative aspect of my studio practice.

ACC: What music are you currently listening to in your studio?

MKF: Sometimes my studio is very quiet, particularly during the planning of a series or more complex project. Once this is finished, the music comes on. I am listening to Anohni, Light Fires, Lizzo, FKA Twigs, and Florence & the Machine in the studio right now (listen on Spotify). Much of the time I will play a single song on repeat for hours - better for regular weaving or spinning!

Visit the Alberta Craft Gallery – Calgary from July 11 to August 24, 2019 to see Mackenzie’s work and visit his website to see his complete portfolio.

His work is also part of Cultivate | Instigate, an Alberta Craft Feature Gallery - Edmonton exhibition about the influential cratives at the forefront of post-secondary Craft education in Alberta

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