Authentic and Alive: Methodical Minimalism Meets Erratic Conceptualization in Student Exhibition
Located in Gallery 104, Authentic and Alive is a collaborative exhibition of work by Evan Fay (Furniture Design) and Megan Armstrong (Printmaking) that’s deeply rooted in balance and interconnectivity. Recently, KCAD had a chance to chat with these two artists about their experience working together.
Interview conducted and condensed by John Wiegand
KCAD: You two didn't know each other before this project. How did you end up partnering for this exhibit?
Evan: I had an idea for a proposal I wanted to submit for this gallery space, but it had to be a collaboration. I had this concept to work with but I didn't have a partner. I was going around and pitching my idea to people I knew in different disciplines. One day I was talking to someone in the ARC [Activities and Resources Center] and Megan was in the back of the room. When I mentioned printmaking, she perked up. I pitched my idea to her and she was all about it.
KCAD: Megan, why did you decide to join up with Evan?
Megan: Originally I was involved in the Interior Design program and I'd always talked about marrying fine art with interior design but the idea never materialized and I switched to printmaking.
I have a very conceptual, hands-on approach. When I saw Evan's style I immediately realized the value and inspiration of where he was coming from and I appreciated it right away
KCAD: How did your different personalities and backgrounds influence the exhibit visually?
Evan: It's apparent when you walk into the space . . . I am more reserved and methodical in my thinking and that comes out in the furniture. Megan’s wild and crazy personality totally comes across in these electrifying lines that bounce and dance across the walls and pieces.
Megan: That really speaks to the Authentic and Alive title. The furniture is the authentic part, the structure, the bones.
Evan: Right! Truth to material, truth to construction, it's authentic.
Megan: Then my designs are like the breath, the movement happening that brings everything together.
KCAD: What was it like to collaborate on such an extensive project?
Megan: Evan is a quieter person and more methodical, where I tend to be really "whaaa!" all over the place and energetic. I think we balanced really well. Evan was a very grounding person for me.
Evan: It was refreshing to feed off of her energy. We come from different backgrounds and we are two different people with two different personalities. So it is nice to have someone who isn't in your area of expertise critiquing your work. They come at it with an entirely new perspective and it’s a breath of fresh air.
Megan: We both have a strong work ethic and we were lucky that we expected a lot out of one another and that we both delivered.
Evan: The challenges come when you are talking about two people who normally do not coexist, spending a lot of time together. It was difficult to schedule time to work.
KCAD: How did you overcome those challenges?
Megan: Communication. We communicated everything. I know that may sound silly, but you can't read each other's minds. So you have to be constantly sharing your ideas and talking about every detail. The end result will reflect how you communicated during your project.
Fay and Armstrong together in the exhibition space, Fay's glass table is in the foreground and Armstrong's prints hang on the walls (click to enlarge) (credit: John Wiegand)
KCAD: What were the biggest lessons you learned from this project?
Evan: I learned what it takes to be successful at collaborating: It's important to hold your beliefs true and strong to yourself, but also be willing and open to compromise. I'm so used to having these strong visions and executing them as I see fit, but then you add another person into that equation and things tend to change a little bit. They can change for the better if you are open to it.
Megan: I think it takes your work to another level. This concept is so hard to illustrate with just one discipline. I really needed that other perspective to come into it and elevate it.
KCAD: Why would you encourage other KCAD students to collaborate more with their peers?
Evan: Projects like this can be very inspiring for your career, especially for young people like us. To go through an experience like this is fuel for me to be experimental in my design and take my work to levels that I wouldn't normally reach.
Megan: If you look at the movers and shakers in the art and design world, they are well versed in many mediums. If you listen to other artists' perspectives you'll be amazed at what they see that you overlooked. I think collaboration is critical for artists in the 21st Century; the old ways of doing things are gone.
Fay's wooden lighting fixture gives the exhibition some ambience (click to enlarge) (credit: Evan Fay and Megan Armstrong)
KCAD: What was your favorite part of this experience?
Evan: Seeing it come together at the end and reap the fruits of our labor. Actually seeing people's reaction to our work that we labored over for so long was gratifying and reassuring.
Megan: We were very surprised the reception was a huge success. We were thinking that it was weird timing and that a lot of people couldn't make it but the room was packed. Everyone was excited and wanted to talk to us. That was really amazing.
Students and the public are encouraged to experience "Authentic and Alive" for themselves in Gallery 104. The exhibit will remain open through Saturday, April 5.