i found out about zoe rayn’s work while reading an interview of her in the online design magazine pink essay. zoe is the collaborative programs manager at the penn museum, where she heads their community efforts. she is also the founder and creative director of caldera magazine, a multimedia platform founded to champion the work of artists and creatives from bipoc & queer communities. in the pink essay interview, i was struck by zoe’s classification of caldera as a space that welcomes and encourages traditionally marginalized artists to express full agency in their ideas and in their work. i’m excited to share my own interview with zoe today, in anticipation of the sixth issue of caldera coming out soon.
AK: what inspired you to work in the art world?
ZR: growing up, i think my family realized i was more creatively inclined, so they nurtured that side of me in whatever ways they could. i was quite literally involved in any and all visual & performing arts programs i could get into (dance, theater, music, art clubs, everything). by the time i was ready to apply for college, i knew i needed to be in arts and culture. in retrospect, i think i'm so drawn [to the arts] because my parents and family are all in more technical industries (medical, real estate, education, etc.) so being introduced to such a different way of thinking/processing things was attractive from the start."
AK: what is the role of art in 2020?
ZR: art has been and will continue to be an outlet to simultaneously distract us from, while also helping us to process traumatic events and happenings. in our present moment, here in the states, i personally see art as a tool...in whatever ways it needs to be used.
AK: will museums change post-covid?
ZR: oh yeah. depending on the size of the museum/institution these changes will look very different. as of now, to me anyway, the only unifying factor is the fact that we now know just how much we can do offsite [virtually] and that is a game changer, to say the least.
AK: who is your favorite artist? what types of work do you gravitate towards?
ZR: historically speaking, howardena pindell; she has an incredibly diverse body of work, though my absolute favorite piece of hers is titled Free, White and 21 (video, 1981). i talk about it more than i need too lol.
in terms of the type of work i gravitate towards, i'm a bit all over the place. i'm definitely more interested in the story behind the work or the 'why' factor, so i suppose i should say i like conceptual works. but, i'm generally very open to any and all mediums.
AK: what has been your experience as a woman of color working in the art world?
ZR: there is so much I could say here. i have been fairly lucky in that i have not had any traumatic or exceedingly painful moments, outside of the unfortunately standard micro-aggressions and willful ignorance of coworkers. i will say that this is largely in part to me being a light-skinned/racially ambiguous black woman, and i can say with confidence that my darker-skinned counterparts most certainly cannot say the same, which is obviously atrocious.
AK: why did you start caldera?
ZR: i started caldera in 2018 after becoming tired of being one of the only black/bipoc people in the room. long story short, i started talking to friends and coworkers about making something that prioritized our communities in a way that didn't feel tokenizing or as if our perspectives need to be censored for white consumers.
AK: what are your goals for caldera?
ZR: simply to expand! we're working to launch wholesale orders and a whole new secondary platform this year. lots to be done, lots of growth to be had, we just want to make an authentic creative community where we can all thrive.
AK: what are the challenges of starting an online publication?
ZR: we are both online and in print, both are equally as challenging in very different ways. online is challenging because there is a need to constantly be pushing out content, whereas print is just crazy because there are so many moving parts to get an issue together. let's just say it's all a lot.
AK: what has been your favorite piece/feature that you have done?
ZR: oh, i don't know if i could pick just one...i'll say my favorite from our current issue (coming out soon) would be my interview with NYC based artist jon key, and a close second would be carmel brown's flo-jo manifesto.
AK: what is the art scene in philly like?
ZR: in normal circumstances it's great! there is SO much more going on in this city than people realize, people always say "there's something for everyone," but here in philadelphia it's actually true.
AK: quarantine guilty pleasure?
ZR: i wouldn't call it guilty, but i've become quite the urban farmer. while i've killed literally all my herbs, i have successfully grown 3 bell peppers and one juicy little tomato.
AK: sun, moon, & rising?
ZR: buckle up… aries sun, scorpio moon, leo rising
WHERE YOU CAN FIND CALDERA MAGAZINE
thank you to zoe for her interview ! check out the new edition of caldera magazine coming out soon.
leave in the comments if you have ideas for who i should interview next & what creative industries you are most interested in hearing from/about. you can also reply to this email directly.