#56: Kenzie Sitterud
A musician turned designer and an installation artist, to boot, Kenzie Sitterud came on last fall as a member of the most recent class of RedLine residents, a designation the artist is already embracing with a shower of new and ongoing work. And there’s plenty more to come from this rising star. Learn more as Sitterud answers the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
Kenzie Sitterud: I have many muses. Color and Pantone books come to mind first. New York City and Amsterdam would make the list, too. As a designer, I am inspired by design books and by typography in all forms. Other muses are cooking and eating good food, reading books of radical literature, and participating in political activism. Taking on an artistic challenge is in itself a muse for me. For my current work, “The Wardrobe,” I have had to learn several new skills, such as carpentry, wallpapering, sewing and framing a house. The challenge of solving the problems associated with installation art is a muse to me. The very process of creating art is one of my greatest muses.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
I think we would first need to consider what type of party this will be, and also I have to keep in mind that my partner, Smash, will also be hosting. Together, we know how to throw a party.
For a formal dinner party, I would invite the following:
Oprah: Because I think she would bring good appetizers.
Marcel Duchamp: So that we could play an after-dinner round of chess while we drink espressos and debate the ready-mades.
Jordan Wolfson: Because this artist really changed my perspective of art. I saw his work in Amsterdam and have never quite looked at art the same way. He seems like a real trip.
For a rager, I would invite:
Andy Warhol: So we could stand around and stare at people together and take photos of all our attractive friends in front of my La Croix backdrop.
Ilana Glazer: A little celebrity crush here, but also she always has something interesting to say, and she seems to know how to have a good time. She would most likely get super-lit and go off about Donald Trump, and that would be amusing.
Jesus Christ: Just to see if he actually shows up this time.
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
I am very thankful and fortunate to be a resident at RedLine. I am always around artists with whom I can collaborate, whether it is for an honest critique or some hands-on help to lift a tiny home. I am experiencing enormous growth as an artist in this community, which is in many ways better than an academic graduate program. As for the cons, there are not enough places and opportunities to make immersive installation art. I also don’t think that there is adequate appreciation for these types of artwork. As an installation artist, I will work on a piece for thirty to forty hours a week, for months. There is so much concept and process behind the work that goes unseen, and I find that to be a really hard pill to swallow.
How about globally?
Something I find great about the global art community is that through social media, it is really easy to meet and collaborate with artists around the world. I love Instagram (@kenzie_sitterud) for the fact that I have a pocket gallery of so many talented artists at my fingertips. I think the issue with the global art market is that it’s one of the only markets that will withstand a recession. I think that says a lot about our global economy — like, why do we need to buy that million-dollar painting when there are people living in tents and on the street without food all over the world?
Are trends worth following? What’s one trend you love and one that you hate?
I think the La Croix trend is my current trendy obsession, and the one I hate is the duck-face selfie.
What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as an artist?
Every time I build something I feel accomplished. I think my most recent accomplishment has been building "The Wardrobe,” an immersive installation that will be featured at 10X: RedLine, a tenth-anniversary resident retrospective that opens February 2. It’s a pretty fabulous show, curated by Cortney Lane Stell. For “The Wardrobe,” my friend and collaborator Laura Goldhamer taught me how to frame a house. From there, I was able to design a four-foot by four-foot by ten-foot structure that is built modularly so that I can take it apart and store it and reuse it for other installations in the future.
I was awarded the Colorado Creative Industries National Endowment for the Arts Career Advancement Grant for this installation, which also feels like an accomplishment. This gave me the ability to make art and not burn holes in my pockets while doing so. I think one of my highlight accomplishments was engineering a kitchen-table room and attaching it onto a wall. That one really made the gallery nervous. I have had a lot of accomplishments, backed by hard work and help from so many talented friends. I am really grateful for the talented pool of creatives who are also wonderful friends.
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
Since 2008, I have been making installations reflecting alternative/queer perspectives through the narrative of a domestic house setting. My goal is to create every room and area of a house in the next ten years. I would then like to have them displayed in a house or in a large museum so that a larger audience can engage with them on a more intimate level. I also want to be more connected to the museums and galleries around town. I guess you might call me a late bloomer, so I am just adjusting to the scene and art climate. It would be great to be featured at the MCA, and I would also like to be showing in New York. I would love to work and collaborate with Meow Wolf. Meow Wolf is a revolutionary immersive installation that engages the greater community. If I could swing it, I would live half the year working in Denver and the other half working in New York. I want to make another music album and be financially independent in my own design and art studio. I have so many dreams and items on my bucket list, this just scratches the surface.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
Denver and I have a complicated relationship. I lived here from 2004 to 2009, and it was one of the darkest times of my life. I thought it was because I hated Denver. So I packed up all my music gear into my little silver car, with no money and no plan, and moved to Seattle. I made music out there for about five years before meeting my partner, who convinced me to move back to Denver. Five years later, I am still here in Denver.
What I have realized since moving back here is that Denver is an amazing place, full of great and creative people. What I hated about Denver wasn't anything about Denver; it was all about myself. I drank pretty heavily the first time around in Denver. Now that I am sober, this city is really colorful and vibrant. There is so much potential and possibility out there. There was too much of a blur back then to realize it.
RedLine is definitely helping me get more connected in the Denver art scene. I am happy to be meeting and working alongside very talented emerging artists. I’m thankful for RedLine and the people there. What makes me want to leave is a need for more artists in an experimental, immersive installation scene. As a large-scale installation artist, there are few opportunities for large-scale conceptual work. I don't know if there is a market for it. Perhaps I am just not tapped in enough. Contact me if you have any suggestions!
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
There are so many talented folks in Colorado. Frankie Toan is one that comes to mind. Their work is so queer, colorful and playful. We just showed together in a group show called Utopia of the Neutral at Cabal Gallery. Next, I would say my friend Kate Speer, who does really great performer/choreographer work. I would love to collaborate with her soon. Then there is the wonderful Laura Goldhamer, who is a musician, builder, performer and artist. Her stop animations are genius.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
While “The Wardrobe” is up, I am hosting a project called GAY CHURCH on March 18 at RedLine. It’s a project that will be co-produced by my loving partner, Smash. We will host a brunch potluck and create a space for the attendees to “preach” their coming-out stories in three-to-five-minute sermons. Neither of us is religious, so it’s kind of a mockery of the church for our queer family.
After “The Wardrobe,” I want to work on a series of experimental digital prints and a series of large-scale originals. Still in the works, I am collaborating with a friend, Jessica Gorse from the Chicago Institute of Art, for a show in June. She is a very smart artist/designer, and I am looking forward to coming up with something interesting together. I am also working with the political performance group Vox Feminista to do some set-design work. If you haven't seen a Vox show, you really need to. I am hoping to begin a new installation by the fall. I am thinking “The Bedroom,” so I'll need to find some grant money for that one, as well as a place to display it (suggestions welcomed). Everything is exciting and new for me right now. I am looking forward to all the new opportunities that come my way this year.
Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
I really like the work of Sammy Lee. She works with paper and has a really interesting story behind her work. I also think that Kate Speer is doing good work right now. I am looking forward to what she does in the future. I am also so impressed by Laura Ann Samuelson. Some of her shows have severely changed my perspective on life. There is one scene in Some Kind of Fun that has stuck with me for years now. I also love the brilliant neon lights of Scott Young that always make me think or want to punch something, or both.
See work by Kenzie Sitterud and other RedLine resident artists, past and present, in 10X: Redline, which opens Friday, February 2, with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street, and runs through April 1. Attend Sitterud’s GAY CHURCH potluck and performances on Sunday, March 18, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., also at RedLine. Find more information on RedLine’s website or call 303-296-4448. Learn more about Kenzie Sitterud's art and design practices online.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.