#23: Mari Crespin
An artist still a year away from earning her art-school BFA at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, Mari Crespin is a doer, already well on her way toward establishing her career. But that’s not the only reason she comes across as a forward thinker: Her work ranges from painting to multimedia performance, and in the service of that versatility, she’s got a full agenda outside of school, with two performances under her belt this year at Georgia Art Space and a lot more to come (see below). Thinking outside the box isn’t something you learn in art school; as Crespin does, you must live and breathe it to put things in motion. Learn more about Crespin from her answers to the 100CC questionnaire, which follow.
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
Mari Crespin: I’ve never had a specific muse, unless nice lighting counts. I would have to say just living and making mistakes has inspired most of my work. Experiencing pain and struggling to validate those human experiences internally leads me to create.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
Maya Deren’s work attaches itself to me psychologically as well as emotionally. We have similar processes, and the manifestations of her creativity are very familiar to me. I’d probably be hiding in the corner chatting with her most of the night.
I could see Prince sustaining the life of this party. Prince personifies what it means to me to be androgynous, both in representation and in spirit. He understood the beauty and spirituality of being nothing and everything all at once. Not only did he show this to the world, but he also seduced society into accepting this shapeshifter mentality.
Miranda July would also be an amazing party guest because when I read her work I feel less alone. I take her as someone who is navigating the raw experience of being huma, while providing herself and others compassion through it. She bridges a connection through her art and intimately relates to her audience, which is a quality I greatly admire. Miranda would be the party guest who knows every person’s name and life struggle by the end of it.
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
Denver is full of inspiration, with so many remarkable artists doing cool things and supporting each other. Denver artists look out for each other and share opportunities freely. That being said, the worst thing about being a Denver artist is the lack of support from the general community. It will always be hard for artists to exist in a space where their work isn’t wholly valued.
How about globally?
The best thing about artists in general is we are always the first to have passion for creating radical change. We see through the way things are and look forward to how they could be. I believe the worst thing about the global art community is the same as the local scale. Artists will always be the outliers, for good reason. But this also makes it difficult for their voices to be heard.
Are trends worth following? What’s one trend you love and one that you hate?
Trends are important to be aware of. I personally believe the artist’s job is to always stay one step ahead of them so we can pave the way for future trends and inspire an evolution of taste.
I love the trend of imperfection. It seems like art and design is so often about clean appearances and perfect objects. Luckily, we are falling into a state of accepting the ugly, grotesque, distorted, unfinished and realistic. Ultimately, it’s the trend of acceptance. As a compulsive perfectionist, I’ve really need to accept the beauty in the imperfect, and embracing that in my own work has helped me immensely.
I hate the trend of trends. While I recognize the natural social tendency to lean in to trends, I still wish we could all do our thing without worrying what the majority of people are up to.
What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as an artist?
My favorite accomplishment as an artist is not anything specific, rather it is more of a feeling. I love creating work that affects people. Some of the best work I’ve made has been a pouring out of emotional energy, and when people connect with that, it is like an echo of hope from the universe.
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
As much travel as possible. I want to explore and learn to find comfort in having no fixed destination. Also on the list is owning a goat farm and fostering a communal space for artists to thrive.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
For now, school and responsibilities are keeping me in Denver. However, I do love this city and believe it will always be home. That being said, existing in a city going through such rapid growth is quite the struggle for me. I struggle with nostalgia, and watching familiar things pass away is sometimes painful. Moving away and immersing myself in total novelty could be a good cure.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
I love what Esther Hernandez has been up to recently. Her performance work has really inspired me to experiment with the medium. I love the way she effortlessly manipulates social situations with humor and artistic tact, in order to re-evaluate people’s preconceptions and address the hard stuff.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
There’s a lot on the horizon, and I am excited for every opportunity! In June I’ll be performing with the New Genres Collective at Currents New Media Festival in Santa Fe. Our collective will also be performing at the Denver Art Museum toward the end of the month. First Friday in July is a group exhibition titled The Unseen at ReCreative Denver. I am especially excited for this one, as many of my female artist friends are pulling out some unique and notable work for the show. Later in July there will be an experimental new-media exhibition called Lights Out Lights On, taking place at RedLine and the Temple. I am also the 40 West Arts District’s artist-in-residence, meaning this coming year is full of workshops and other opportunities to bring art to the community. To round it out, I’ll have my graduation exhibition next April!
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Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
There’s a couple! Drew Austin is an amazing go-getter artist and a spectacular human. Though he is not lacking in self-made opportunities, I know the art community will be shining the spotlight on him this coming year. Kate Wilker is an experimental photographer and video artist. Her work is intimate and beautiful, addressing the subtleties of navigating identity and interdependence in this age. Her style is really refreshing and easy to connect with. It’s only a matter of time before she gets more attention from the art community.
Mari Crespin performs with the New Genres Collective at the Denver Art Museum’s Untitled Final Fridays takeover by Jordan Knecht on Friday, June 29, from 6 to 10 p.m. Learn more at Untitled on Facebook. See her work in a group show, The Unseen, at ReCreative Denver, which begins with an opening reception on Friday, July 6 (details TBD), and as part of Lights Out, Lights On, a one-night pop-up exhibition of light-based installations and new media on Friday, July 20, from 8 to 11 p.m. at neighboring venues RedLine and the Temple.
Learn more about Mari Crespin and her work online.