Kevin Cyr Interview
Kevin Cyr was born in Edmundston, NB, Canada, in 1976 and grew up in the paper mill town of Madawaska, Maine. Cyr received his BFA from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions both nationally and internationally and also featured in New American Paintings. Hey, by the way, we also have some of his illustrations as Wallpaper in our LEARN TO RIDE Snowboard App.
Name: Kevin Cyr
Place of residence: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Food: Sechuan style shrimp and veggie dumplings
Transportation: A gray Bianchi pista, same bike I used as a messenger in Boston
How do yourself describe your kind of work?
Are you a painter or a illustrator or a mixture of it? I consider myself a painter, although I’ve done illustration work in the past. The work I’ve been creating lately has been more in line with painting for the reason of exhibiting the work in Galleries. I’ve also been getting into creating functional sculptural work, I’m creating vehicles.
How does your birth of town Edmundston influence your work?
I was born in Edmundston, Canada, but grew up across the border in Madawaska, Maine. It’s a really small town with population around 3,000, with a single paper mill. Over the years there has been a noticeable decline of production, which has in turn slowed the pace of growth. Painting old vehicles, mostly from Brooklyn’s small manufacturing sector is way for me to stay connected with where I’m from.
When you received your BFA from College of Art in Boston, what did you have in mind in that particular moment?
I was hoping I could make art that would be used on snowboards, skateboards that sort of thing. I grew up snowboarding, started in 1990, and I always wanted to have my work on decks. Right after I finished school I began painting and developing my style and showing my work in small venues and in group shows.
Is the Art Scene in NY nowadays still vibrant like back in the 70’s and 80’s?
I would imagine it’s similar. I think the difficulty now is because things cost so much, but on the other hand we have so many ways to get our work out, through the internet, and publications. There is certainly a slow down right now, but I think the Art scene will survive here, maybe even better than other places because there are so many artist.
How difficult is it to survive as artist especially in NY?
Between paying rents for an apartment, a studio, and paying for basic cost of living, lack of steady income is the most difficult thing. Most artist I know really have to sacrifice their free time as well as quality of life. Almost everyone I know has to have a day job, and there are many distractions in the city, openings, music shows. It’s worth it though, it great to live in such a vibrate place.
Your painting series “Vehicles” is extremely a american theme to me. Do you think cars in general are a symbol in contemporary culture?
I think cars have always been a part of American culture, but right now there is so much emphasis on cars because of the floundering American auto industry. The vehicles I’m drawn to are usually the broken down eyesores, covered in rust or graffiti. I really like how those vehicle represent the opposite of what vehicles usually stand for. Cars are usually social status symbols, I love it when I see someone drive by in an old beater, it means to me that they don’t care what other people think.
Would be nice living in one of your Campers …
I would like to travel in the Camper Bike, it’s a little bigger than the Camper Kart and much easier to get around. If I had to, I’d live in the Camper Bike, it had metal walls and more room for storage. Kevin, you’re also building a pop-up camper.
Tell us a little bit about your CAMPER KART project.
The Camper Kart idea came to me while reading the Cormac McCarthy novel “The Road”. I was working on the Camper Bike project when I read it so the idea of combining campers with unusual vehicles was fresh in my mind. I though it was really interesting how Cormac McCarthy imagined the shopping cart as the most utilitarian and most practical object to use in a post apocalyptic time. The story followed a father and son and their struggle of mobility and shelter and the Camper Kart was inspired from the story, not to provide a realistic solution, but mostly to stimulate conversation about mobility and shelter. The story is ultimately a story of human perseverance and I intend the Camper Kart to symbolize the same. It also evoke issues of homelessness, as well as the struggle middle class Americans are faced with in these hard economic time. It reflects the down sizing most Americans are faced with.