#98: Taylor Balkissoon
Toronto-born and raised in Colorado, Taylor Balkissoon represents the face of Denver’s next generation of artists. Fresh out of art school and finding her place in the community, she splits her practice between fine-art experimentation and curating at Dateline
gallery and MCA Denver. What’s up with our art scene’s younger set? Learn more from her answers to the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Taylor Balkissoon: I grew up on Margaret Atwood, and I totally identify with her ideas of the present and the future as completely frightening domains. Like her, I believe that the struggles of the individual parallel what’s happening on a global scale. My dream job would be to design covers for her novels.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I’m obsessed with DJ Khaled’s snapchat story. I’ve recently started research and planning for an upcoming, as-yet-unnamed hip-hop/Illuminati/science fiction/NWO exhibition. He’s got this whole thing about THEY: THEY don't want you to succeed, THEY don't want you to have turkey bacon and egg whites, THEY don't want you to drive a Mercedes-Benz. It doesn't matter if it’s a joke, a reality or something in between; the fact that everything we experience through the media as a society generally straddles these distinctions is completely absurd, and I love it.
I’ve also spent the last year inundating myself with metaphysics and have gotten pretty deeply into Karl Pribram and David Bohm’s models of the universe and brain as holograms.
Artists I like include Devin Troy Strother, Rashaad Newsome, Jacolby Satterwhite, Katie Torn, Ben Quinn, Rashid Johnson, Cyprien Galliard, Ryan Trecartin, Nora Turato, Alex Ito, Royal Robertson, Thrush Holmes, Ebony G Patterson and Caroline David.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I feel the idea of trends in art or in anything else is too individualistic. I think we should try to abandon the idea that there are any trends at all; we’re influenced by and influencing each other too quickly. The idea of a trend is too closely associated with the assumption that it originated with one place or with one person.
Are there certain attitudes or aesthetics I don't enjoy? Yes. But also what is trendy to me might not be to many other creative people, artists or otherwise, whom I enjoy and respect. We all have very specific subjective opinions, and I try very hard to not presume that my own preferences are “correct.”
What's your day job?
I am a personal assistant for an art-patron couple, helping them organize their studio, build furniture, framing artwork, walking their dog, etc. I also recently started at the coffee shop Amante across from Union Station. I also work as a curator. I am the regular curator at Dateline and I am doing guest curatorial work at MCA Denver.
**If you’re reading this, please hire me. I have experience as an artist’s assistant, curator, photographer, housepainter, dry cleaner, administrative assistant, barista, nanny and (as I mentioned) dog walker and watcher.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Hire a very expensive private detective to find out who my mystery patron is and have the entire process live-streamed at the New Museum.
Denver (or Colorado), love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
What keeps me here is part comfort and part fear. I grew up here, my family is here. I have a good life with a very supportive and kind community. I’m excited by the things I see here. But I also feel like I might need to live somewhere else to grow in the ways I want to, both as an artist and as a person. I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the country and the world as a young adult, and I feel like I would be missing out if I didn’t put myself outside of my comfort zone and truly discover new perspectives.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Affordable living costs are a huge issue for every artist I know. It would be amazing if all the new money coming to Denver would more directly invest in the arts. It’s nice to have the tax revenue that funds SCFD and the like, but that’s a very trickle-down style of wealth distribution to creatives.
It would be wonderful if we could elevate the more experimental and DIY-type venues and programs like Dateline and Leisure. There’s such interesting and engaging work that happens in those spaces, and it would be advantageous to everyone if they held a higher priority for arts patrons who most often frequent the more established galleries.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Our community is very lucky to be so varied. In particular, many of the artists at Tank Studios have unique and steadfast creative backbones that diversify Denver’s perspective on art. I remember being a sophomore in Silver Fine Print with Conor King, when he told us about the new studio complex that he and a few other artists were investing in and thinking, “Wow! You can just do that?”
In addition to Conor, Donald Fodness, Derrick Velasquez, Amber Cobb, Ian Fisher, Laura Shill, Amelia Carley, Tyler Beard (whom I assisted) and others made Tank a hub for artists to collaborate and connect. Tons of people who have or have had studios there have been huge role models for me, and I’m very glad to have had them take an interest in me.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I am very excited about curating local artist Julio Alexander’s show The Sounds of Earth at Dateline in March. I am also working on a number of upcoming shows with national artists, including Justin James Seahorn and Andrew Lundwall. I will also be curating the Open Shelf library for the second time at MCA Denver in July, with a multicultural focus featuring national artists. I am also co-curating a show for next winter with Adam Lerner at the MCA.
In my art practice, I will be participating in a monthlong residency in Salt Lake City in April, during which I intend to focus on the illuminati/hip-hop/sci-fi body of work. I will also continue to show internationally with the Artnauts.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
I think and hope both Kyle Warfield and Alex Page will start getting recognized for their respective work. They both have aesthetics that are all over the place, but are consistent in their honesty and playfulness. They both understand and use space and materials well. Page’s work thematically appeals to our millennial malaise while being rooted in abstraction. That dude is always at the Temple making work and trying new things and asking himself questions, and I respect that. Warfield’s work is particularly fun and interesting because of its sheer diversity and range; photographs, sculptures, gifs, videos and design are all vital parts of his visual language, which plays with perception and playful impositions on reality.
Learn more about Taylor Balkissoon online.