RAVELIN: “Under the Skin” Interview Series By Coco Dolle "KS Brewer: Learning Empathy"

Coco Dolle: Kelsey, how did you start your career as an artist?

KS Brewer: I’ve been making art and taking classes since I was 5. It’s always been a part of what I do and who I am. But then I decided to got to film school at NYU, and thought I would become a more commercial movie director. I was trained as a filmmaker. Once I graduated, I realized that I didn’t really like making narratives films. So I decided to make a couple of films that were more intuitive and experimental. And those became my first video pieces: “Hungry” and “Regular Programming”. With those I realized that I could combine filmmaking and the more physical art forms I’d grown up with.

CD: Your installation exhibition is an experience of cathartic sensory and internal experiences. You use an incredible variety of mediums. How do you put it all together, in your mind and with your use of materials?

KS: My process is a conceptual one, where I first process the ideas, themes and symbolism that I want to use. Then I sort of develop the physical language from there. There’s a wide variety of mediums in my work because I let each piece take whatever form feels necessary to it. The installation has hand-built furniture pieces that incorporate video screens, sconces programmed to turn a voice recording into light, and really effective soundscapes composed by my sound designer and friend Keyhan Kamelian. I did a lot of research on different traumatic symptoms and effects, through books and articles mostly. The end result, I hope, is not something informative or didactic as much as it is experimental and evocative. I want people to be able to bring their personal associations to the installation rather that prescribing how they should think or feel.

CD: Tonite is the full harvest blue moon, it says it heightens our emotions. I feel very much in a dense transformative path myself. Do you think it’s a good time to be “exorcising our personal demons”? Do you believe in that we are governed by other forces?

KS: I think we definitely live in relation to the circumstances that surround us. There are a lot of things that shape our internal responses, and they can happen on personal, social, or historical levels. My hope in keeping the installation relatively open ended and ambiguous is that people can relate something about their own experience to the atmosphere and artifacts in the room, and that through that the room can validate their experiences as real and important. Whether we acknowledge the truthfulness and impact of events on our own lives privately, or institutions acknowledge them more publicly (the Senate hearing for Dr. Blasey comes to mind), I think exposing these traumas and validating them I think is a necessary precursor to any recovery.