Kailey Bryan is an interdisciplinary artist currently based in St. John’s, Ktaqamkuk (Newfoundland). Their practice explores ways in which bodies and environments – physical, social, and psychological – mutually construct one another. Kailey holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University and is the recipient of the E. J. Lightman Award for Sculpture and the 2014 VANL-CARFAC Emerging Artist of the Year Award. They have exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including Eastern Edge Gallery, MIX NYC, MIX Copenhagen, and The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery of NL in 2016. Kailey is a founding member of Toronto-based art collective Tongue & Groove who work in interactive installation. Kailey is a lover of critical discussion, large bodies of water, and puns.
My practice incorporates a wide variety of media and processes with one key feature: repetition. Repetition is a means of conditioning or training; what is repeated in our lives sets our parameters for action and reaction. I am fascinated by spaces that make human labour visible: hand-woven material, hand-tiled surfaces, customized structures created from scratch. My work allows me to take the repetitive habits that I have formed as reactions to my experiences of anxiety and reroute them into something meditative and generative.
Weaving, for example, is a physically and mentally consuming task. I get swept away in it, ebbing and flowing with the threads back and forth like a tide. It allows me to translate that action into a pliable material that has such a rich and varied history. It extends through craft and fashion, organizes social and production spaces, and set us up for technology as we know it today. The Jacquard loom’s punch-card system was the basis for what eventually became binary code, and I think that’s really fascinating. There is a direct line between textile production, the industrial revolution, and the digital world.
My body also features heavily in my work. I bring commonplace materials into bizarre and often disconcerting relationships with my flesh, allowing me to unpack their social coding. Repeated gesture in performance and video gives room for the viewer to move from visceral reaction, to empathy, to criticality, and back again. Borrowing from film, pop culture, and contemporary decal-based aesthetics, I seed a shared narrative, and then unsettle that familiarity. In this way, my weaving performances and installations, drawings, video, and sculptural work become a complex process of examining what it is to make a record of the body, both individually and collectively.