Alexia McKindsey Visual Artist | The Domestic Home and Family Narratives

Alexia McKindsey is a recent Concordia Visual Arts graduate but has already distinguished herself with remarkable artwork that has distinct and recurring themes about the Home and Family.  She uses all sorts of mediums including (but not limited to) creating sculptural porcelain shapes with archival paper, egg tempera, and oil paints on linen.

Her ability to showcase these meaningful themes with such diversity displays her definite vision of who she is as an artist.  For such a young artist, this is quite an achievement.  Of course, this will grow with time and we look forward to seeing the evolution.

Alexia’s work is detailed, feminine, and thoughtful.  The choices she makes including the tools and mediums she uses demonstrates her thoroughness in her process as an artist.  For example, it is quite rare to see such a young artist use egg tempera which is an ancient technique dating back from the Egyptian times.  This technique is used by mixing egg yolks with pigment to create a form of paint.

Furthermore, she often completes her artworks using archival finishes, which again, demonstrates her meticulous approach as an artist.  No detail is left to chance as she takes the time to make these distinct choices.

I have no doubt that these qualities will bring Alexia to a rise in her recognition as a visual artist. Already, she has been exhibited at various galleries around the city and continues to produce work in a systematic manner. We look forward to watching her develop her skills and concept. Below is an interview we did that gives you a glimpse of her story and you can find some of her available artworks at Jano Lapin Gallery here.

Since you were a child, what do you feel were the important events that led you to become the artist you are today?

Growing up, my family was always very supportive of the arts and encouraged me towards creative paths all throughout my childhood. I have a lot of family members who have practiced painting as a past-time. I was especially influenced by my grandfather. He used to draw and paint with oils in a very figurative, realistic manner. I have memories of me watching him do so as a child and asking him to draw me specific things; caricatures or characters I had seen in Disney movies.

I would eventually start drawing with him (my practicing art started with drawing).  I was terrible at it at first, but he was very encouraging and that instilled in me a drive to continually progress my skills in art as I grew up. I must’ve been about five years old when I started practicing with him, and art has stayed with me ever since.

What are your inspirations as a visual artist?

The basis of my work centers itself around the domestic space and interpersonal familial narratives. As a result, I tend to look inwards within my own life, the lives of my family members, and the heritage that comes with those aspects when thinking about creation. I utilize the physical facades of homes I’ve lived in or have a personal connection to, memories or past family narratives, and the relics or precious objects found in these spaces when conceptualizing works and their compositions.

Most recently, I’ve started building up a database of reference imagery to further inform my work. This currently consists of old family photographs and slides, objects, fabric and material, color swatches and palettes, but I also want to expand it even further to include voice recordings of my family members and their recounts of memories and narratives.

I find there are endless possibilities and nuances to explore in this realm. I’m trying to build up a rich vocabulary of sources that I can pick and choose from to create whole bodies of work. There’s always something to pick up on when I work according to this system and I find it endlessly inspiring.

What do you feel is your most important lesson as an artist so far and why?

There are a lot of complexities to being an artist that I found myself faced with as I started getting more into the career-oriented details. It’s a creative and fun career with a lot of freedom and one that you really get to build from the ground up, but a lot of that entails aspects that are maybe not so glamorous. These things involve more of the administrative and technical aspects: managing a website, your finances, and marketing, updating your written material, applying for callouts and grants, working with a gallery.

Socially speaking, the community is everything within the fine arts; as a support-system, an educational tool, and as a vehicle for opportunities. The list is endless and I am learning more and more every day. A lot of these details are not evident when I started out as an artist and I kind of learned them slowly along the way. I’d say my time as an artist is now split 50/50 between the process of creation and these administrative tasks. They are immensely important and are really what powers and sustains your career as an artist.

Do you do anything specific to help yourself evolve as an artist?

I’ve always naturally strived towards improvement and growth within every area of my life, but I feel it is especially important when you are an artist because you are ultimately the one possessing full control over the trajectory of your practice. I make an effort to consistently identify areas of improvement within myself and my practice and apply myself accordingly.

I feel it is important to be open-minded, to foster relationships and learn from your peers, to be flexible with instability, and to accept and affect change according to your needs. A lot of the improvement that I’ve noticed within myself comes from active work, intention, and having the motivation to learn. I’ve seen my skillset in painting improve over the course of the past years just by applying myself to learn and perfect my technique, for example. Sustaining productivity and the motivation to create is what really powers me through the phases of my practice.

What’s your process in creation?

My approach towards creation is more calculated and analytical. I’m a pretty big planner when it comes to making art. I really enjoy the process of fully conceptualizing and thinking through my works before I take to making them.
I tend to work on specific projects or series at a given time, where I will initially source central ideas, themes, and imagery to work off of and then I’ll take to composing sketches for each of the works.

Typically, I will work through collaging (physically and digitally), in order to achieve the compositions of my work. I really enjoy using photoshop as a tool as it allows me to test out juxtaposing imagery and colors so that I can preview and ultimately perfect the composition of work before I take to painting it.

Of course, there is still a lot of variance in form and color that occurs when actually creating the work, but this system really helps me focus on the task of physically creating the work, which I feel is especially important being a detail-oriented figurative painting. To me, concepts and physical creation are very separate processes. When I am painting, I am directly engaged with the physical act of painting and when I’m sorting through and composing imagery on photoshop, I am thinking about the work’s narrative.

What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not working on your art?

I really enjoy baking and cooking in my free time. Growing up, my family always baked and we have a lot of traditions surrounding food, so it’s something that has always been a part of my life. More recently, I have also been getting into crochet and knitting. It’s something that initially started with me crocheting clothes or hand-knitting blankets, but it slowly crept its way into my work where I’m now crocheting sleeves for frames surrounding my egg tempera.

I feel like this happens a lot with my work. My quilling sculptures also came out of a hobby I had as a child. I love a good craft, and I think that because my work is so directly involved with domestic life, it naturally happens that the two inform each other and become intertwined over time.

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