Humans of SFMOMA: Collin and Kelly

Photo: Jolene Torr

Here we talk to Humans of SFMOMA staffer Collin (@cmmckelv), who preps and installs exhibitions here and is an artist himself, and his partner and fellow artist, Kelly (@lppshop), founder of Little Paper Planes.

In twenty words or so, Collin, tell us what you do at the museum.

Collin: I prepare and install all the media-based work for exhibitions. I maintain equipment and work with artists and curators to achieve their goals.

And Kelly, what’s the mission of Little Paper Planes?

Kelly: We’ve been building connections and conversations between artists, collectors, and designers since 2004. Located in San Francisco, Little Paper Planes is an artist-run organization that works with artists in a variety of ways: through print editions, publications, objects, interviews, and a residency program.

How did you two meet?

Collin: We had met in passing a few times, but in 2010 I was working a late Thursday shift at the museum and had just gotten off work. My Barbarians were doing a performance in the atrium and I was making a beeline for the bar. Kelly popped out of nowhere and punched me. We talked a bit and later made arrangements to hang out. We haven’t stopped since.

As artists, do you ever collaborate on projects?

Collin: We’ve done a few things together. Most recently we made a video piece that we showed at the Parking Lot Art Fair.

What’s your favorite artwork by your partner?

Collin: I don’t know if she would call it a series, but over the past four or five years, Kelly has created a number of projects around a central theme. There was a piece she made for a show at RVCA in 2010, which was a reenvisioning of craft booths that her mother and grandmother used to make in the 1970s. This piece was then further conceptualized by the curatorial team at MacArthur B Arthur Gallery for a show in 2011. Kelly has since elaborated on this concept in installations at Zughaus in Berkeley, The Lab in San Francisco, and Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek. The works have not all dealt with the same physical materials, but conceptually they are all tied together.

Kelly: Collin did a piece called Canti for Paul Kos. It was a sound piece in response to the 1970 work by the Bay Area artist Paul Kos with the microphones recording the sounds of ice melting. Collin’s piece was part of an editioned record that was put out by Land and Sea. One of the special editions that SFMOMA’s library collected was the record suspended in a sculpture that appears to be a large ice cube. Collin’s work is always conceptual in nature. I find most of his compositions smart, engaging, and inspiring.

If you weren’t doing what you’re already doing, what would you be working on instead?

Collin: I’d continue my art practice, brew beer, and learn to be a bladesmith or maybe a cooper.

Kelly: I am doing exactly what I want to be doing.

What should everyone know about the Bay Area arts community? What’s the vibe like?

Kelly: The art community here is driven by the artists creating opportunities for themselves. There are a lot of artist-run spaces that are rich in interesting work and projects. Due to the high rents and small physical size of this area, artists have to really think outside of the white cube and get innovative in their practices and work. It’s a diverse group of people exploring a variety of subjects and mediums.

Collin: Despite the high cost of living forcing people out of the Bay Area, there is still a strong and resourceful community of artists here. Support your local scene!