A brief interview with 2016 Open Studio Tour artist: Bruce McKaig


Bruce McKaig’s studio

Can you tell us a little bit about the work that you do in your studio?
My work has always been process driven, initially exploring material qualities: pouring things on to photo paper, successive doses of light, hand coloring, intervening as much as possible. In my forties, I almost revisited teenage thoughts of being a photojournalist when I combined pinhole and time-lapse techniques to photograph people doing what they do, mostly working. That exploration produced images, objects, and projections increasingly channeled through public art projects. As part of my first public art project in 2001, I produced 1000 DVDs and handed them out on the streets. As my art became increasingly public art, ever process driven, I started to directly examine the processes of public art and subsequently, finance and economics. I have been a visual artist for nearly forty years, and have a Masters degree from Georgetown University in international affairs with a concentration in economics.

Artwork by Bruce McKaig

What drew you to the medium(s) that you are currently working with?
Photography started for me as a child on Sunday afternoons between the Wonderful World of Disney and family vacation slides. The slides were accompanied with stories and eventually they replaced my memories. I now remember being in a living room with screen, shag carpeting and a milkshake more than ever being at Hoover Dam or on a farm in Alabama. Between Disney and family vacation photos, I grew up with ample examples of how well photography makes up it’s own reality.

What is something that you think is unique about your studio or practice?
Building on nearly forty years of exploring the visual arts, I have most recently turned to socioeconomic issues as the primary subject matter for the works. My images, videos, participatory sculptures and performances now examine issues of labor, income inequality, education, incarceration. I am a 2016 Fellow in the New Economy Maryland program (Institute for Policy Studies) where I research on funding practices and policies in the arts. In addition, I have been awarded the 2016 Engagement Grant Award (Crusade for Art) to build a barter network in Baltimore amongst artists and tradespeople.
Artwork by Bruce McKaig

What is one thing you love about being an artist in Baltimore?
I moved to Baltimore summer 2015, and continue to appreciate how welcoming and diverse the city is to new comers. In addition to the rich visual and performing arts (music!), Baltimore explores a number of alternative models to bring art and people together, which aligns well with my research on funding practices in the arts.
Artwork by Bruce McKaig

What are you most excited about for this year’s Open Studio Tour?
As well as meeting new people and introducing them to my studio and practice, I am most excited to use the open studio days to share details about the barter network with artists and workers that I am building thanks to the Engagement Grant award, hoping to connect with people who would like to participate.

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