Kelly Lycan is a Canadian, Vancouver-based artist working primarily in photography and installation. Often, her work explores how we display and observe objects, place value upon them, and how they are produced and reproduced. We spoke with Kelly about her work, inspirations, and her BAF residency and upcoming show.

Burrard Arts Foundation: What’s your background as an artist? Did you study art academically, or are you self-taught?

Kelly Lycan: I initially started as a photographer studying at Ryerson University in Toronto. I then pursued commercial and fine art photography for a few years. Eventually I ended up at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, (NSCAD). This is where I found installation art suited my conceptual and material needs while at the same time allowing me to further investigate photography, work with space and use other disciplines.

BAF: Which works and artists do you find inspiring?

KL: As a student I was influenced by 3 French artists who combined sculpture and photography: Sophie Calle, Annette Messager, and Christian Boltanski. As an artist who has been practicing for several years I have developed my methods and seeking inspiration from others comes up less. There are artists whose work I am interested in, or who might come up in relation to a project I am working on, or work I see that excites me, but perhaps being inspired by a specific artist is less relevant the longer one makes art.

BAF: While you currently live and work in Vancouver, you’ve studied in both Nova
Scotia and California. How has living in these diverse cities shaped you as an
artist and your work?

KL: It has been awhile since I have studied in these places but exhibiting and participating in residencies in North America, Europe, South America and Asia have influenced me greatly. Residencies have lead me to a very research based method of working. It was sometimes more practical and desirable to spend time looking and gathering than making and shipping in these different countries. Hence my interest in museum as they are easy to access and align with my examination of the display of objects and images.

BAF: What’s your experience been like of taking part in a residency here at the Burrard Arts Foundation?

KL: Working at BAF has been a great opportunity to make two new bodies of work with much appreciated support. Having access to a large studio space to work in has been instrumental in making this process go more smoothly. It was extremely useful to make the art work right next to the gallery the work will be shown in. It was also refreshing to be in a new and convenient location and have visitors to the gallery pop in to see what I was doing.

BAF: Looking at your past work, you seem to have an interest in how goods are
displayed in a commercial context. How does that play into what you’re working on now?

KL: My work consistently investigates how images and objects are placed and displayed in the world. For the exhibition at BAF, More Than Nothing, I am using sheets of drywall to fabricate shelf like sculpture/paintings based on museum displays. The work is sourced from display shelves I have photographed in museums, historical photographs and images from the internet. I am expanding on an element from a previous exhibition called More Than Anything where the typical support for the artwork is the artwork itself. Drywall, a
ubiquitous material that creates the gallery walls is once again used for this exhibition as the subject of the work. The shelves cut out of drywall affixed to the wall suggest an empty reference, a museological configuration of objects like snuff bottles or ancient figures. The lack of objects on these shelves relies on the viewer to fill in the blanks.

Kelly is the Burrard Arts Foundation’s current resident artist; we will be exhibiting the body of work she produced during her time with us in a show opening November 3rd.