Erin Kjaer is the Curator and Co-Founder of Nest Collective and Studios located at Queen and Dufferin in Downtown Toronto.
What do you do?
I run Nest Collective and Studios. Nest is an artist collective located at Queen and Dufferin in Toronto. As the Director of the collective, I keep the wheels turning at the studio while also trying to find ways for us to engage with the community at large. For example, right now we are part of a residency with Artscape Youngplace, where we’ve had four exhibitions so far, with two more in the Fall. We’re going to be running a series of workshops and lectures throughout the summer months which will ideally be headed by members of the collective, but we are open to reaching out into the community as well.
Basically, the way that I describe myself is as a curator and facilitator. In my personal practice as a curator, I am writing, researching and working on various projects with artists both in and out of the collective. On a day-to-day level, I am facilitating the goings on at Nest. As a facilitator I try to manage the studio environment and make sure everyone has what they need, while also trying to facilitate the artists individual goals for their practice and the goals we all have as a collective. That’s anything from making sure that no one has to deal with property management, or insurance, and all of the paperwork that goes with being an artist: helping people write artist statements, grant applications, setting up residencies and providing opportunities for artists to show their work.
How did you end up getting into working in a collective?
I’ve always been really interested in curatorial practice and the idea of collective culture, but that wasn’t necessarily what I built my education and career towards. I was in the New Media program at Ryerson University and while in my third and fourth year my studies began to steer things more towards a curatorial focus. When I moved back to the city after being gone for a while I was lucky to stumble across a friend who was opening up a gallery and collective, called Creatures Creating. I asked him if he needed help and I started out interning for Creatures, helping with events and other things related to the gallery. Eventually I was doing all of the administrative work and by the following April I was working as the Director there, managing mostly the collective and the things happening inside the space.
There was a really unfortunate break-in at the space and some of the artists work had been stolen, which eventually led to Creatures closing. When that happened, myself and the artists who I had connected with during my time there decided to try and set up a new space. About a year ago now, along with the help of one of our members and co-founder Stella Cade, we started the initiative that would become Nest.