Krista Blake is a freelance curator who works with diverse artists to assemble ideas into engaging exhibits. “I love mixing up different ideas to create something exciting,” says Krista. “Inspired by talented people, I come up with ways to showcase ideas in compelling ways.” Waterloo Region got a taste of that over the last few months at the Clay and Glass Gallery, where Krista curated an exhibit called Archive Fever!
Visitors checked out boxes of unlabelled archival material, all donated by creative thinkers, from Scottish writer Ian Rankin to Toronto artist Shary Boyle. The boxes invited people to explore and discover creative people’s personal collections.
“I’m fascinated by archives, curiosity cabinets and collectors themselves – we all collect something and this collecting teaches us so much about ourselves,” she says. “We love to hang onto objects, even the most mundane objects speaks to us. Seeing possessions in this ways helps us see the act of collecting as gateways to our pasts.”
Krista has plans to take the Archive Fever! exhibit to the UK and the USA, specifically to MIT in Boston, where one of her archival participants, Erik Demaine, works as a computer scientist. She is exploring the idea of changing up some of the artists to reflect the exhibit location, as well as pulling in people who may not be artists but have interesting collections.
Before arriving in KW, Krista and her family spent 15 years in Glasgow, Scotland, where she ran a small gallery that showcased a range of works – from student artists to established, international artists. “There was nothing austere about the gallery; we had performances and art of all kinds,” she says. “It’s important to me that art be accessible to as many people as possible.”
Shortly after her arrival in KW, she met Starlight Social Club owners Josh Koehler and Bernard Kearney. They owned the neighbouring building, and were looking for a tenant to fill a recently vacated space.
“With my gallery experience in Scotland, where I also sourced interesting design elements, I pitched them the idea of starting a cool design pop-up shop,” she says. “I assured them I could pull it together in a couple of weeks, in time for the Christmas holiday shopping season.” Bon Mot operated for a couple of years, showcasing some amazing art and artefacts.
While getting the lay of the land, Krista discovered Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area (CAFKA) and was drawn to their vibrant support of interesting art and ideas. “I started out DJing at their events, and then joined the board last year,” says Krista. “I love that CAFKA pulls art enthusiasts from all ages, focusing their passion on bringing very interesting and temporary art projects to the region.”
She has recently taken up the position of Arts and Culture Coordinator at the City of Kitchener but she’s got another big project up her sleeve. She’s working on an exhibit featuring Donald Coxeter, a highly influential British/Canadian mathematician who was also a composer. It’s still early in the planning but she says the exhibit will pull in a performance by the KW Symphony, as well as elements of architecture, virtual reality, design and of course some geometry, the core of Coxeter’s work. You can connect with Krista by email.
P.S. Krista’s favourite topic of conversation: food.