Breaking Boundaries

Photo by Lauren Thurman-King
Photo by Lauren Thurman-King

Art and identity. An interview with Peregrine Honig

An internationally recognized artist who calls Kansas City home, Peregrine Honig uses her work to explore issues of gender, sexuality, identity and cultural trends. With Unicorn, her most recent exhibition—and first solo show in Kansas City in nearly a decade—recently wrapped up, we caught up with Honig to discuss art and the driving forces behind it, Kansas City and her plans for the upcoming year.

Kansas City Spaces: How would you describe your style of art?

Peregrine Honig: I don’t think of artwork as having a style so that’s a hard one. I make my work. I would say that most of the things I’m interested in exploring or having a conversation about are aspects of the gray area when it comes to early sexual identity or the ways that we view people and the ways that we transition as a culture. I think that desire is the energy of evolution, so I’m very much interested in what it is and how they dress and how they narrate themselves in the context of attraction. I’m driven by things. I’m driven to understand what confuses me and to learn about people in subclasses who identify themselves differently than what we consider to be conventional. And I’m interested in the difference between gender and sexuality and the language that people use to explain themselves.

Part of what is interesting about being an artist is it’s not a linear situation. You are standing in the bisection of your future and your path. This desire is the energy of evolution. How will I move forward and what does it look like? How will I love things? What is my form of love and grace and understanding and what does it look like when I produce something? There’s something simple about it. Some of the most beautiful pieces of art in the world are the most beautiful and simple things.

KCS: What do you like about the art community in Kansas City?

PH: It’s interesting to be in the Midwest having grown up in San Francisco. It’s a different culture to navigate. But I love Kansas City; it’s my chosen home. It’s where I’m comfortable making things and doing things. I think K.C. is interesting because there’s a resistance. It’s a really good place to make work. There is a level of fiscal and conceptual support. There’s a lot of collaboration between different mediums and generations of artists, which I don’t find to be absolute in other cities. There’s a rich history of makers.

KCS: What will you be working on in 2015?

PH: I’m looking forward to a very productive year. Birdies turns 12 this February 14th, so I guess Danielle Meister and I need to start planning our business’ bat mitzvah. I’m working with a fantastic team to produce and sell transgender undergarments and ready-to-wear pieces under the umbrella All is Fair. In spring I’ll be traveling to China and working with leaders at the Guanlan Printmaking Base to curate an exhibition of contemporary printmaking artists from China that will be brought to Kansas City in 2016 or 2017, thanks to Hugh Merrill. I’ve been working with Hilary Glynn of Pizzabella and Landon Vonderschmidt on two cookbooks, for which I’m doing the artwork. I’m starting a large dance project with Concept Zero. And I’m Heidi Van’s creative collaborator at The Fishtank; we are writing a play together that should be hilarious. 

Photo by EG Schempf
Photo by EG Schempf

For more information about Birdies, see our blog post Birdies Has a Lot to Chirp About.