Exclusive: Jimmy Carter-Coated Zombies and the Work of Kevin Christy

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[Untitled, 2008; Kevin Christy. Courtesy of Monya Rowe Gallery.]

LA-based mixed media artist Kevin Christy is just one of the emerging talents in Perception as Object, a politically-charged group show opening today at Chelsea’s Monya Rowe Gallery; according to Rowe the exhibition (a mix of sculpture, painting, drawing and photography) was sparked by the anticipation surrounding the recent election, and its after effects — a national spirit that vacillates between optimistic and doubtful.

After the jump our interview with Christy about his hopes for the nation, obsession with the Freedom Tower and favorite parts of the LA art scene.

Flavorwire: We know your watercolors from Stop Smiling Magazine. How did you first get hooked up with them? Are there any cultural figures that you’re dying to tackle?

Kevin Christy: I started working for Stop Smiling because my friends run the magazine. James Hughes is the editor and he and I have a publishing company together (Broken Wrist Project). They couldn’t find anyone to do portraits that they liked, so they asked me if I knew anyone and I just started doing them myself. I hadn’t done much portrait work before that but I quite like doing it now. I would like to do a portrait of Chris Matthews.

FW: One of your pieces in the show references the forthcoming Freedom Tower. Are you following what’s going on at Ground Zero closely?

KC: I check in on the status here and there. It just seems so abstract at this point. It takes a lot of time to decide on a project of that size, but at this point it seems so far from original intent.

FW: Where do you find the most inspiring things happening in LA right now? Who are the other LA-based artists who inspire you?

KC: The nice thing about LA is the art scene is constantly changing. I just had a show at a new gallery in Echo Park (Hope Gallery) and I really like that space. The people running it are really doing it for the right reasons and they’re really sincere about the artists they’re using. The big art moves into Culver City are inspiring, too. It’s nice to see these new places pop up in a short time and become the “hot” destination. It’s like a traveling circus.

My favorite LA artist right now is Ashley Macomber. She’s a genius.

FW: Many people have a preconceived notion of what the country will be like under Obama. Are you optimistic about the potential for positive change?

KC: I’m optimistic I think. I’m pretty patriotic so I feel like our country can “right the ship”, if we put out minds to it. The mentality has to change. I think Obama is a great start and hopefully there’s a positive ripple from him. I think we’re in need of a “Victory Gardens” culture right now.