Colorado Creatives

100 Colorado Creatives 3.0: Cory Feder

Cory Feder at work on "Silence Is a Garden, Power Is a Castle," an installation at Leisure Gallery.
Cory Feder at work on "Silence Is a Garden, Power Is a Castle," an installation at Leisure Gallery. Courtesy of Cory Feder
#10: Cory Feder

A recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Denver artist/activist Cory Feder brings an intensely personal point of view back to her home town of Denver, where she now supports and works among the city’s close-knit DIY community. An animator, zinester, ceramicist, stick-and-poke tattooist and textile artist, Feder moves fluently between mediums, raising poignant epiphanies in unexpected places and drawing viewers into her private world. We invited Feder to share a little more about herself via the 100 Colorado Creatives questionnaire; her answers follow.

Heavy Blanket from cory feder on Vimeo.

Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Cory Feder: Suzan Pitt has been the largest inspiration to me in the art and animation world. Her film "Asparagus" broke down so many barriers I had built around myself, not only as an animator but as a female in the art world. She is a legend for her masterful techniques of translating her own distinct painting style into her own distinct animation style and, in my eyes, pure irreverence to tradition.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

My mother's side of the family. I have very few opportunities to spend time with them because they live on the other side of the world, and we can't speak the same language. But I have been with them for the last three weeks in Korea and have been learning a lot about myself in my time with them. For me, they are a mirror that I rarely get to look at, and it is always challenging when I do. But many internal questions get answered in the end. I am interested in the expectations and assumptions we have of each other as family and as individuals from different cultures. I am very much interested in their daily lives and the types of oppression they face or even what types of oppression they are a part of. There is a lot that I will never know.

click to enlarge Cory Feder, from "Silence Is a Garden, Power Is a Castle," Leisure Gallery. - COURTESY OF CORY FEDER
Cory Feder, from "Silence Is a Garden, Power Is a Castle," Leisure Gallery.
Courtesy of Cory Feder
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

I would like it if there weren't any more "Dana Schutz at the Whitney Biennial" incidents this year and ever again. To me, there is no excuse for a white artist to capitalize off of the death of a person of color – especially in this case, because Emmett Till was killed because of a white woman. If her intentions were to make work in solidarity with black and brown lives, then perhaps she should listen to their voices and their requests for the painting to be removed from the Biennial. I've seen a lot of artists this year who have been very willing to use cultural appropriation or imagery to make strong statements without consideration of the narrative that is implicated from their identities. If you are willing to borrow from other cultures for your art, then you should be equally as willing to listen to the reactions of those who you are borrowing from. Making the art is only half the process — seeing its effect in the world, hearing critiques and making changes is the other half, and it is a responsibility that many refuse to acknowledge. Art institutions teach these basic concepts but don't like to follow through when money is involved.

What's your day job?

I predominantly do hand-poked tattoos, but I also support myself with illustration and ceramics commissions. Sometimes, I table my comics at various art markets, and every once in a while, I will screen-print a batch of shirts. This summer, I will scoop ice cream at Sweet Action.

click to enlarge Cory Feder, "Silence Is a Garden, Power Is a Castle," Leisure Gallery. - COURTESY OF CORY FEDER
Cory Feder, "Silence Is a Garden, Power Is a Castle," Leisure Gallery.
Courtesy of Cory Feder
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

Ah, of course I would want to solve every problem I could in the world, but I'll at least name the ideas that have materialized in my dreams already. I would get a studio, most likely in the mountains, with animation, ceramics and screenprinting facilities where I could also live. I would buy myself a big harp, more pedals and a drum machine. I would love to open community art centers with classes taught by badass artists and makers from/in neighborhoods that have limited access to art facilities and creative opportunity. I would really love to create more housing opportunities for people who have just been released from prison. I am imagining something with a large garden and a large studio. I would love to start more art programs in prisons and create more bridges for those on the outside to meet those on the inside. I would also buy comfortable homes for my family, then send them on vacation. My mom would really like to see Europe.

Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?

I grew up in Denver, so in some ways it will always have a place in my heart. That being said, the Denver that I grew up in is long gone and absolutely unrecognizable, besides Federal Boulevard (god bless), and I often question why I came back after graduating from college. The neighborhood where I grew up used to be primarily Latino, and now there is almost no trace left of their mark and history there. I was recently evicted from my home, which was a DIY space where many artists and musicians were living, in a very rude awakening of having about 25 fire marshals and city officials surround our house in a SWAT-team manner. Our landlord EXDO exploited us by having us pay rent while they "attempted to bring the building to code,” but they were prolonging our eviction to make sure they could get more money out of us before we were booted. Denver hasn't exactly left the sweetest taste in my mouth this past year. However, it is incredibly lucky to have a community of artists, musicians and punks who know how to support themselves and one another in creative ways. I was so insanely lucky to have found that community coming out of school with doubt/debt and trying to learn how to continue my practice without fully depending on an institution for resources. The DIY community is really what is keeping Denver alive.

demo reel from cory feder on Vimeo.

What's the one thing Denver could do to help the arts?

This has been the largest question for Denver since the DIY witch hunt began, and the answer, I believe, is still the same: more affordable housing. There are other answers, too: Purchase art from local artists. Support independant galleries like Leisure, YES MA'AM Projects and Dateline, where emerging artists are constantly showing. Stop using artists as pawns for gentrification. Start paying artists more before you ask them to donate work to your project.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

Colorado and I are both so lucky to have Molly Bounds. She has been a close friend as well as a mentor for me since returning to Denver. She really puts in a lot of hard work to be a bridge between the institutional and DIY creatives in Denver, and I think her role here is so vital. She is constantly finding opportunities for people who haven't received the recognition they deserve, as well as making her own art every day, and her work does not go unnoticed. Derrick Velasquez is also another extremely important bridge, and the creator of YES MA'AM Projects. The fact that he has managed to provide a space for emerging artists while the city has taken away every other space really shows DIY’s dedication to art, as opposed to the city.

Cory Feder, for The Stacks, MCA Denver. - SUSAN FROYD
Cory Feder, for The Stacks, MCA Denver.
Susan Froyd
What's on your agenda in the coming year?

I recently started taking myself more seriously in the musical arena and would like to dedicate some time this year to recording a tape. In my last show at Leisure, I started a conversation between my embroidery and ceramic work that I would very much like to continue to experiment with much more. I plan on applying to some different artist residencies for fall and beyond. I would also like to take a dance class soon. I'm thinking hip-hop, ballet or both.

Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?

Tori Schaus has been important for Denver's art scene for many years now with her extraordinary botanica renderings, but she is about to emerge again in the tattoo world, and I am foreseeing that it will be a very big deal. Beth Town is one of the most talented and humble photographers I've ever met and is also going to be a big deal, I think.

See work by Cory Feder as part of The Stacks, on view through August 27, in the Open Shelf Library, at MCA Denver. Learn more about Cory Feder and her work online.
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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd