|THE OPENING is all about delving into the fascinating, quirky and wonderful visual arts in Vancouver. Each week we’ll feature an artist, cover an exhibition, discuss a lecture and everything else in-between to delve deep into who and what makes art happen!|
Painter, collage artist, curator, bookmaker and young artist extraordinaire, recent Emily Carr graduate Jessie McNeil’s practice revolves around books and paper media. Co-coordinator of artist run festivals like the annual Yellow Crane Festival on Granville Island and CanZine West (in town this weekend), Jessie’s practice bridges the gap between art-making and curation. Her most recent solo show Reading People at Project Space on East Georgia (October 16th – 26th) featured several collaged portraits of people browsing through publications at art book fairs, bookstores and publication spaces.
We met up at Lost and Found on Hastings to talk books, art and Vancouver.
EA: Where does the influence of books and printed matter in your practice originate?
JM: Printed matter has always been a part of my life. I’ve always done collage. I recently discovered a box of art from when I was a kid, and realized that I did a lot of it when I was young. Book media is more of a recent thing; I took a course called The Democratic Multiple with Aimée Brown at Emily Carr and she introduced me to the form. Which media I’ll use depends on the subject matter; if a certain topic doesn’t make sense in a collage or painting, it might make sense in a book.
EA: How many multiples of a book do you make?
JM: It depends. I made a zine called Vancouver Treasure Map, and it’s kind of an unlimited edition; I make them whenever I need them. When I make an artist book, perhaps something that costs more money to produce, it’s usually an edition of five to twenty.
EA: Do you think there are enough accessible outlets in Vancouver for young artists to sell their books?
JM: Yes and no. At the beginning I thought there was nothing (apart from READ Books), but while interning at Project Space I was introduced to fairs, festivals, and publication or project spaces not only in Vancouver, but also in Seattle, Portland and other cities along the coast. Also, the internet is our friend, it’s not smart for us [printed matter folk] to battle against the medium. It’s another great way to distribute work. But I hope more permanent shops are able to sustain themselves in Vancouver, in the future.