June Featured People Crystal Ruth Bell & Kira Simon-Kennedy

June 9, 2013


Interview &Translation / Alice Dong

Crystal = C,Kira = K

1. Welcome to Xindanwei.com, Please introduce yourself.

C:I ran the artist residency program at Red Gate Gallery for a little over two years, and now work at a web-based non-profit in New York
K:I’m a freelance photographer, filmmaker and translator (Mandarin, French & English) currently based in New York.

2. Could you tell us under what circumstances you met and how you got started in the field?

C: My background is in art and graphic design but I moved to China in 2009 to work for Red Gate, and had previously worked at a contemporary Chinese art gallery in New York, and interned at Atlantic Center for the Arts.
K: I studied Chinese and art in university, and interned under Crystal at Red Gate Gallery in 2009. I’ve been involved in the Chinese art and music scene ever since.

3. Can you tell us about China residencies the project you are the director/manager for and what prompted the idea for your project and what you do for them?

C: I started hosting meetings with other residency administrators while I was in Beijing to discuss our challenges and how we could provide support, advocacy, resources, and progress for our field. Founding China Residencies is my way of more formally investing in these solutions.
K: I came on board more recently, in part because over the years, many friends and artists have asked about opportunities to discover China firsthand. Amassing all our knowledge and resources into one website seemed to be the best way to let the most people know about all the amazing opportunities that exist for artists in China.

4. Please elaborate a bit on your approach to realize your project. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in developing the project?

C + K: Amazingly, everything has gone extremely smoothly. Our biggest challenges are the same challenges we face as young creatives ourselves: a finite supply of time and money, but we accomplished a great deal in our three week research trip. Luckily, as a web-based organization, we we able to launch as a bootstrapped and crowd funded endeavor. We are in the last moments of our crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, please contribute to support China Residencies!http://igg.me/at/chinares

5. What were the circumstances that lead you to coming to Shanghai and What are your future steps?

C: I’ve been amassing a list of artist residency programs across mainland and HK for some time now and Kira and I recently discussed how valuable it would be to include other creative exchange organizations like coworking spaces. I was introduced to Xindanwei through Janis Claxton who is collaborating in Shanghai through a great organization called International Creative Entrepreneurs.
K: We are hoping to connect in each of the major (and minor) creative hubs. Our research trip began by visiting residencies, embassies, and co-working spaces in Beijing, then Shanghai, Kunming, Lijiang, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. We hope to come back to China at least once a year and eventually be the most comprehensive directory of residencies, co-working spaces and creative communities in China.

6. Thanks again for providing Xindanwei.com this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?

C: To the creatives who are interested in exploring these opportunities I would say take your time and do your research to find the program whose unique strengths (and maybe even differences) best suit you. There are programs for ceramicists, printmakers, novelists, dancers, hackers, streets artists, and just about every creative field.
K: We’re passionate about fostering cultural exchange at a human level, so we’ve very excited and pleased to see these new open creative spaces pop up all over the world .


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