Sunday, March 1, 2015

Rachel Mason

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
On the cover, Stephanie Cunningham.
Q&A about  the artist, and her new work The Lives of Hamilton Fish: Rachel Mason. Photos and interview by K.K.W 

K.K.W: Are you originally from NYC?

R.M: I am from Los Angeles but have lived in New York since 2004. 

K.K.W: Most people in the creative fields showed early signs when they were young. Was it like that for you?

R.M: I was obsessed with drawing pictures from an early age. I would wake up in the morning and start drawing according to my Mom- and I do remember drawing my dreams out on paper. 

K.K.W:  Creativity is everywhere, but what were you drawn to when growing up?

R.M: I was always very attracted to people that lived out their own unique version of the world. I remember watching Harold and Maude and thinking that Maude was the greatest person ever. Just living in the world in the exact way that she wanted to. I remember one time stumbling across a storefront whose window was papered over with drawings, and I pushed the door in to peak in- and it wasn't a store, but an artist's studio. And the man had tons of drawings everywhere and I remember thinking- this is the way I want to be a grown-up. I want to be surrounded by art.

K.K.W: How did you find your way to The Lives Hamilton Fish

R.M: Well, I think that it found me. I was just looking up the death of one of the most notorious serial killers in the world, a man executed at Sing Sing prison, whose name was Albert Fish -- and I had to look him up by his given name which was actually "Hamilton Fish" and when I found a newspaper article announcing his death- I suddenly saw another "Hamilton Fish Dies" headline on the same page.  

K.K.W:  It seems that both men are total opposites that in fact, mirror the soul of America. Would say there's some truth in this?

R.M: Well, maybe not just America, but the world we live in. There are people who start their lives out with the advantage of great wealth and privilege, as in the statesman Hamilton Fish II. And there are people whose story begins with the horrors of abject poverty and abuse, as did the killer Hamilton "Albert" Fish. Not everyone in those situations ends up carrying out the kinds of lives these two men did. But in  my film, I wanted to make some sense of how they might come into contact, and try to make sense of this. My feeling is that there is a larger cosmic connection that holds us together, and causes events to happen in ways, that are far from our understanding.

K.K.W: Given the subject, are you prone to reading into history, is that a major aspect of your life?

R.M: Yes, if your idea of history includes the history of the stars and planets and everything before human existence. I am just as fascinated by the larger history of the universe as I am fascinated by our little tiny planet. 

K.K.W:  Were there any creative people that influenced the directional process of "Hamilton Fish"? 

R.M: Actually, I tried really hard to seek out pre-cursers and previously existing examples of what I was trying to do with my film, and came up empty. I think that Pink Floyd's The Wall, and The Who's Tommy, and of course David Bowie are all influences within the realm of cinematic storytelling through song. Jodorowsky is one of my favorite artists of all time and all mediums.

K.K.W:  As a creative female at the helm of all this, was it difficult given that the main characters are men and from another time-period?

R.M: Not at all. I also took great liberties with the gendering of the characters.  I play a male character but sing with a clearly female voice. There are several other actors in the film who are either trans or play in drag, and I make no mention of this and often people don't have any idea. I have always felt a very strong attraction to people who do not follow traditional gender rules- and perhaps, that simply goes into my casting decisions. It also could be that the film reflects my community of friends. 

K.K.W:  Have you considered that what you've done makes you a role-model for other young women [especially since many creative areas are still dominated by men]? 

R.M: I have been told by a few people now and then that my work influenced them which is always really surprising to me, because I don't feel mature enough to be in any position of influence. Frida Kahlo was a huge influence on me and I loved that she indulged in her own self portraits endlessly, and with such brutality. I also loved that she freely appeared in drag. 

If you would like to know more about Rachel's project "The Lives of Hamilton Fish" & show-times for March , go, or: 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

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