Salon Questionnaire with Kristyn Cooper

* This interview was featured in the arts section of The Telegraph Journal in December 2009.  It is one of my favourites because the questions were so fun to answer.

Q.  Provenance?

A.  I originally moved to Fredericton from Miramichi to attend the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. Although I thought I would end up elsewhere after graduation, this city grew on me. It is peaceful and friendly, clean and well-cared for, intelligent and educated, and seems to have more than its share of people who love and support the arts.

Q.  Why art?

A.  I don't think I had a choice. I guess it chose me. I was artistic from a very early age and although I didn't always know exactly what I would be, I always had this strong feeling that I would end up doing something special. I found metal-working and became absolutely spellbound by everything about it.

Q.  What was your breakthrough moment?

A.  Having my work accepted into the World Craft Biennale in Cheongju, South Korea last year. I applied with sort of a "nothing ventured, nothing gained" attitude and it paid off. I had been doing well locally but, of course, wondered how my work would measure up elsewhere in the world.

Q.  What are you working on next?

A.  Getting a creation grant so I can start on my next solo exhibition. I plan to continue my work with heirloom objects inspired by details from the past.

Q.  What place on Earth inspires you?

A.  Any place with a beautiful body of water. I have lived near the water my entire life and cannot imagine being content in a place that does not have a river, ocean or lake within walking distance.

Q.  What place in New Brunswick inspires you?

A.  My family camp. It is deep in the woods on a beautiful little lake called Peabody. In the summer I swim until I can't see the bottom and just float for hours. At night we sit on the dock and watch for shooting stars.

Q.  Secret indulgence?

A.  Watching scary movies and eating unhealthy amounts of chocolate-covered cherries with my sister.

Q.  Your favourite hero of fiction?

A.  Scarlett O'Hara. You may hate her vanity and immature attitude toward men, but you have to admit that she is a woman prepared to take care of herself. The character undeniably challenges conventional roles of women from her time.

Q.  What is your greatest extravagance?

A.  Definitely buying gemstones. They are beautiful, interesting, magical and addictive.

Q.  What is your greatest fear?

A.  Having to get a "regular" job. Work takes up way too much of our lives to be something we do not absolutely love. I hate that so many people accept the idea that work is not supposed to be enjoyable, that it is just what you do to make money and you don't have to like it, you just have to do it. That suggestion is utterly poisonous to your well-being. I never want to look back and realize that I have wished most of my life away.

Q.  Greatest joy?

A.  Time spent laughing with my family.

Q.  Your favourite work of art?

A.  It is a large charcoal drawing of a work horse by Geordie Millar called Stretch (50 x 70 in.). It was one piece in Millar's exhibition Procession which I had the pleasure of seeing at The Gallery during my first year of study at NBCCD. The drawings were all huge, which made you feel like you were standing in a space with life-sized horses, and the work had so much energy that you could almost see them moving around you. That show still stands out in my mind as one of the most beautiful that I have seen.

Q.  What are you reading?

A.  Usually several things at once. Right now, a beautiful book on the history of Cartier Jewellery.

Q.  What's on your iPod?

A.  I don't have one. My music collection is 90 per cent classic rock, though.

Q.  What talent would you like to have?

A.  I would spend the summer with a gypsy if I could learn to read fortunes.

Q.  What is the greatest public misconception about art?

A.  That it is an unnecessary extravagance meant for the affluent. We all deserve art in our lives in whatever form speaks to us. Maybe painting and sculpture doesn't necessarily resonate with you but you are drawn to beautifully hand-woven blankets or lovingly crafted kitchen tables or stunning examples of architecture. Art means something different to every one of us, and maybe that is what makes it so interesting.

Q.  Your most treasured possession?

A.  A wooden jewellery box handmade by my long time boyfriend. But, for someone who makes - and loves - jewellery and other objects, I am surprisingly unattached to material things. I most treasure things that can never be possessions.

Q.  What is your motto?

A.  If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself.

Q.  How would you like to die?

A.  With no unfinished business.

Q.  Your favourite art gallery?

A.  Gallery 78, and not just because I recently had a very successful show there. I am drawn to places and things with a history. The gallery is housed in a beautiful 19th-century Queen Anne revival mansion. The details are amazing from gorgeous woodwork to charming fireplaces. I especially love the turret and conical roof. It is a marvellous setting for artwork. The perfect environment to let your imagination run away with you.