#91: Sigri Strand
A photographer and former member at Pirate: Contemporary Art, community-builder Sigri Strand is now throwing her energy into launching Arthyve, a new crowd-sourced arts archive, in collaboration with archivist Jessie de la Cruz. Like de la Cruz, Strand’s passion for making Denver a better place to live is rooted in activism and a powerful appreciation for the city’s tight artist community. And love: Strand just can’t stop talking about the ambitious project at its outset, as you’ll learn from her answers to the 100CC questionnaire.
Sigri Strand in 2017.
Photo by Evan Cotgageorge
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
Sigri Strand: I often like to daydream about who I would be in a parallel universe. And I think that in one, I would be a scientist, and in another, I would be a musician. So that’s a convoluted way of saying that both science and music really inspire me. Science inspires me because it can answer questions so much bigger than us and our everyday lives. And music just makes my heart soar, gets my blood pumping and helps me truly feel the life force in the everyday.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
Only three? Patti Smith would definitely be one. Her music, her words, her writing, her photography and painting, all of it. In some ways I feel like I already know her, after following her for years. And her autobiographies make you feel so close to her. I would love to ask her about her process and about NYC in the ’70s and ’80s. Second, Nina Simone: Every good party needs a revolutionary. She was so passionate and full of conviction. I would humbly ask her to play a song so she could stop time in the room. And David Bowie, because he was funny, sweet and charming, and the ultimate creative. Jessie and I often joke that we are praying to the David Bowie God for Arthyve to happen, and so far things are working out pretty well! (Thanks, David Bowie God.)
Sigri Strand, “Untitled,” from the "Conjuring the Sensation of the Sun" series, 2014.
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
Denver creatives are really showing up for art, for protest and for civic responsibility, and making so much work at the same time! I am proud of our creative output and our capacity to demand a seat at the table despite all of the growth and change. I think the worst thing may be that we are losing some of our creatives due to rising rents and displacement. I know many people are having a hard time staying in Denver proper. The spark that lit the fire under Jessie and me, in many ways, was seeing Rhinoceropolis and GLOB shut down. We realized that there was no one saving the creative output of these magical spaces! We had to get to work.
Are trends worth following? What’s one trend in your discipline that you love and one that you hate?
One trend I am appreciating right now is the trend of moving toward equitable representation in the arts, in archives and in nonprofits. I hope that we can make this a way of being rather than a trend.
One thing I don’t appreciate is when it is more important to be diplomatic than to take a firm stance on something. I am glad that Arthyve has a strong identity and purpose. We are taking a stance: We believe in equity in the arts and in the historic record, and we believe that people should be writing their own histories.
Jessie de la Cruz and Sigri Strand will launch Arthyve in 2017.
Photo by Evan Cotgageorge
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
I would like to see all of my favorite musicians play before one of us kicks the bucket. I would like to see Arthyve a fully realized place. I would like to travel more. I would like to own a home. I would like to get back to making my own art and music.
What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as a creative?
I had a great time as a Pirate at Pirate: Contemporary Art. I’m proud of the work I made from 2011 to 2014. I made a lot of work in that time, and I hope to get back to that level of output. I think Arthyve will be one of my favorite and best accomplishments. We want to be so much more than just an archive waiting for you to come see it (though that will be cool in and of itself). We are excited to create thought-expanding programming that brings artists, musicians and creatives out to further pump our city up with pure, joyous creative activity.
Strand with her show at Groundswell Gallery in 2013.
Courtesy of Sigri Strand
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
Oh, Denver. I left for a number of years for New York City and Washington state, then came back right when the recession hit, and landed my job at the Denver Film Society. It has truly been home for me. I wasn’t raised here, but moved here right out of high school. I moved to the Western Slope of Colorado from Minnesota as a teenager, and I sort of felt displaced. So when it was up to me, this is where I made my home. I’m glad it was here for me to come back to. It’s beautiful here — we have amazing weather and amazing historic architecture. Our creative scene is popping off, and if you want to start something, you will be embraced by the community. There is so much support here. I love it. I worry about all of us who are being uprooted, moved aside and overlooked simply because we don’t have the capital. (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There is more than one way to contribute to your community.) Suffice it to say, it’s going through a lot of growing pains, but I love it.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
I want to name a few. Esther Hernandez is amazing to me. We’ve known each other a long time. It’s been beautiful to watch her owning her power as an artist the last few years. She has been so prolific, and everything she is creating addresses our immediate collective anxieties, her work just floors me. I heart Esther!
Bianca Mikahn (who I don’t even know IRL) is another. Her music is beautiful, and she is showing up every day as a poet, musician, mother and activist. I even appreciate what she brings to social media! As a mom, I love to see other moms hustling, because I know what it takes!
Jessie de la Cruz! My dearest old bestie! I am so proud of the work she is doing for Arthyve, and all of the beautiful intention behind the work. It is a radical and important creative endeavor. (And again, she’s a hustling working mom.) She quite literally inspires me every day.
Best friends Strand (left) and de la Cruz (right) in 1998 during their Community Radio show on KDNK in Carbondale.
Courtesy of Sigri Strand
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
Arthyve, every moment that I’m not working (our Archives for Artists assembly at McNichols on August 18 is not to be missed). Continuing to be a single mom that makes it happen. Watching my kiddo grow up way too fast. Maybe there will be some photography in there?
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Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
Gosh, I mean he’s already noticed and has been a part of the creative community for years, but I’m really hoping that my buddy Keith Garcia will get noticed as a film director and see his sweet-snookums-baby-love-child, The Heels Have Eyes, come to fruition. He is an amazing storyteller. I hope this is what launches his directing career, because I know he’s holding on to so many other enthralling stories in that beautiful head.
Want to help get Arthyve off the ground? Proceeds from Show Me the Munny, a vinyl-toy exhibit and silent auction on Friday, August 4, at Rule Gallery will benefit the project. Learn more about Arthyve and the art of archiving at Archives for Artists, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, August 18, at the McNichols Building; registration is $12 online at Eventbrite. Join Arthyve and the Society of Rocky Mountain Archivists for Archives as Muse,at 6 p.m. October 26, also at the McNichols Building. Visit Arthyve online to learn more about the project, and help Arthyve develop programming by answering an artist survey at surveymonkey.com. Learn more about Sigri Strand and her work online.