It is my pleasure to introduce to my readers, Steve Khan. Not only is Steve one of the most generous, gentle souls, he is an incredible artist in all senses of the word.
“Steve Khan is a visual artist and a poet. He is originally from Vancouver, but has lived in many places across Canada. Although his diverse ethnic background allows him to ‘belong’ to many different boxes, he prefers to make his own new space.
He is a graduate with distinction from the joint Art and Art History Program at Sheridan College and the University of Toronto with a Minor in Women and Gender Studies. He has recently won the Canadian Art Foundation Award for community development in the arts, and a nomination for the 2010 Mississauga Arts Council Volunteer of the Year Award.”
MB: Tell us what type of artist you are.
SK: A relatively unknown one, but this interview will change that.
I draw things well, usually portraits. I have painted, sculpted, designed, and crafted art objects, but now also enjoy using text. My current work combines aesthetics with a particular medium to emphasize a concept. Even when words are conspicuously absent, they still influence what I make.
Side note: I have seen art change the world I live in, and still believe it can- so I’m quite romantic.
MB: What is your first memory of art?
SK: That’s tricky because my memory often fails me.
One of the first paintings I made in kindergarten hangs framed above my bed wherever I live. It uses the song ‘To sing a rainbow’ to illustrate a concert I sang very badly in when I was five. Myself, my sister, my mother and my kindergarten teacher are more important than everyone else, so we are much larger and in detail.
My favourite memory of art was Tino Seghal’s ‘conversation piece’ at the Guggenheim in New York. It taught me a viewer could be the subject of a work.
MB: What do you hope to achieve with your art?
SK: A comfortable living would be nice, but I will settle for infamy and gallery representation. Till then, I am compelled to make things without financial gain.
Leslie Dick explained it with these words: “You are materializing- taking something from the inside and putting it out into the world, so you can be relieved of it.”
In terms of intent, I use humour to incite conversation, usually about something unspeakable, with the hope that once spoken out loud, it can change.
MB: What is your favourite medium to work with?
SK: Currently, words.
MB: What has been the most difficult part of your journey as an artist?
SK: Since I was taught say nothing when you have nothing nice to say: first, learning where I want to belong (as opposed to fit) in the art world. A close second is getting used to rejection. The hardest lesson is grasping John Baldessari’s overused quote that “Art comes out of failure”. I let go of making only the ‘right’ choices when I realized my mistakes teach me more.
MB: What advice do you have for other artists?
SK: Debbie Fields (creator of Mrs. Fields Bakeries) said: “. . . the greatest failure is not to try”.
Make things for yourself and things your collector will buy.
Gurpreet Sehra told me : “Take risks. Make work that pushes beyond what you are comfortable producing”.
Since critics will tear your work apart with them, learn how to defend your (self and your) work with words.
Silence is not necessarily a bad reaction; it could be delayed gratification.
Without constant rejection, acceptance (or recognition) wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying.
To avoid learning you inadvertently stole someone else’s idea, read about art a lot.
When you don’t feel like making anything at all, try to remember how you felt when you finished something. Preferably something you liked.
Art school will teach you things you can’t learn by yourself. However, if you find someone who curbs your need to make things, don’t hang around them too long.
Besides that, no matter what anyone tells you, you are still an artist.
MB: Are you working on a current project you can share with us?
SK: One uses pennies, one uses fruit and the third uses vinyl. Sorry, but no more clues til they’re finished.
MB: Is there somewhere that you dream of showing in?
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal– slightly more ambitious than the wall in Shopper’s World my dad keeps encouraging me to apply to.
MB: Who or what inspires you?
SK: In no particular order: you; Gurpreet Sehra; my mother’s writing; Tino Seghal; my sister; The Permanent Longing for Elsewhere– a screening curated by cheyenne turions; Darren Bader; Andrea Levy’s Never far from nowhere; my father’s criticism; Manhattan; one or two night stands; Divya Mehra’s interview in C Magazine and text pieces; Montréal; Zadie Smith’s essays and novel White Teeth; Breann Ritchie; food- though I have an intense allergy to anything bland; Mark Crofton Bell; Camella Da Eun Kim; Jean-Michel Basquiat; artist quotes that attempt to define art; the sublime; Alejandro Cescarco; Emma Donaghue’s Room; Margo Thomas; William Kentridge; Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy; beauty; the Guerrilla Girls; male hipsters; Zacharai Logan; Laura Chiovitti; Javier Fuentes-Leon’s Contracorriente; Francisco-Fernando Granados; Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz; Andy Warhol’s quotes; Martha Rosler; Irmgard Emmelhainz; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun; Hennessey Youngman’s Art Thoughtz; dancers; Thomas Ruff; Asal Aslemand; William E. Jones; Simon Paul Black; Surasi Kusolwong; music mashups; James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room; Janet Cardiff and not George Bures Miller; Kent Monkman’s Group of Seven Inches; Sarah Waterfield; Samuel Delany’s The Motion of Light in Water; Amin Rehman; loss; Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World; Michael Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Simon Fujiwara; critics who probably never were artists but find just the right words to describe them; Xavier Dolan’s les amours imaginaires; and me. Perhaps more interesting than who/what is my list always grows.
MB: One word to describe your relationship with art?
SK: Co-dependent (which is defined as an unhealthy psychological reliance of one person on another)
If you are as mesmerized by Steve as I am, make sure to hit him up on the below social media outlets:
Until next time,