Who is Myra Kooy?
Myra is a Black, gender- fluid Person, who loves living life. I have a wife, Leonore Gordon, who is a poet, family therapist and social activist. Eighteen years ago she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and while we both live with its challenges, she continues to be very active much of each day, and is very involved with local, national, and international Parkinson’s communities, as am I. We support and love each other while helping each other navigate through the waves of life. I live to create works of art and experiences in which people from different walks of life can find personal self-expression. I challenge myself to push artistic boundaries to their edge and peek over to see something new. 90% of the time I see the glass as 3/4 full and the other 10% as 1/4 full. My art is a direct response to my immediate environment, my past experiences and an ongoing investigation of heritage and culture. I explore interconnections and relationships of particles and their ecosystems as they compare to societal units—family, racial, economical, for example.
What is your background?
The beauty of my life is that my parents chose me in 1962 before my first birthday to join their family of three biological white boys and one black girl. After WWII my teenaged parents immigrated from Holland, an experience that I believe gave them a unique ability to never really see problems as obstacles. Rather, they saw opportunities to build bridges to reach the needed outcomes. As a child I played with real carpentry tools because my family was building our house. My family’s decision to live off the land meant that we milked goats, raised chickens and froze and canned fruits and vegetables. It has become clear to me that there is such a thing as divine intervention—this was the perfect home to nurture and organically develop my passion to express myself through art.
Is art something you always wanted to do?
No, I never thought of art as a separate thing that one does as a profession. I have always thought of art as a lifestyle, something that is incorporated into everything that a person does. So painting a mural on my living room wall, dragging a large piece of bark out of the woods to create an assemblage or building a shelving system for my favorite books have always been ways for me to create an environment that spoke to my person.
Did you attend fine arts school?
No, I got a Bachelors degree in Literature and Education. At the time that I went to college, I didn’t think of Art as a field of study as much as a way of life. Although I spent most of my spare time painting and transforming rooms in my various apartments into oasis that removed me from city life, I called my creations “installations.” Curiously, I never called myself an artist and yet I engaged in a creative process everyday.
How long have you been making your resin bow ties?
The resin bow ties have been in the works for about a year.
CLICK ON THE LINK TO SHOP MYRA’S BOW TIE AND TIES:
What is the process or techniques of making a resin bow tie?
I will quote my Grandmother, “ Never give everything away. Always hold something back from your recipe.” All that said, I create a replica of a shape that I am interested in using and then make a mold. Then, with a non toxic resin I engage in a layering process with and without a mold, a careful process which can’t be rushed.
Did you have your own exhibition in the past?
Yes. I had a solo show at Trestle Gallery, and have been part of many group shows over the years, including annually as a participant in Gowanus Open Studios. Earlier this year my burlap series was part of a “Found Art” show at the Huntington Public Library. The previous year my work was exhibited at the Long Island Children’s Museum.
My leather bags have been accepted at juried shows at the Smithsonian in Washington DC and the Lincoln Center craft fair
I wear many hats.
I am a craft artist, a local curator and a fine artist. I have found that engaging in the art world on all these levels is rewarding. Each one of these creative processes calls for a different venue in which to exhibit. So, in the craft world I am working toward creating a business that will help other people though employment. I will participate in one or two craft shows in the fall and have an application in for one of the big holiday shows. I am keeping my fingers crossed and do not want to jinx it by saying any more.
As a curator and fine artist I presently have abstract oil paintings displayed at the COMPASS Park Slope, @ 514 2nd St. Brooklyn, NY 11215. This show, “Spring has Sprung” will come down at the end of June. The new show that I curated is named, “Navigation” and will have its Opening on July, 7, 2017 from 6:00 – 8:30.
My art will be included. The art at the most recent “Members Salon” at Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. was just taken down.
Any project coming up?
I am working with Brooklyn Art Slope in the capacity of Civic Council Trustee, to host a Film Festival on October 13 and 14. I am also working with Gowanus Arts on organizing Open Studios on October 21 and 22. During this time I will also have another Opening at COMPASS and am working on curating an exhibition for Park Slope and Gowanus artists to be featured for Open Studio. It would be great to have you come back and see these events unfold.
Is your art a sort of activism, or is it solely pleasure?
My desire and ongoing commitment to being Socially responsible by providing venues in which to exhibit local artists is a form of activism. I also am committed in this work to reach beyond the local borders and create opportunities for unique community exchanges.
My fine art work is both cultural and natural. I use my work to keep me grounded and it gives me great pleasure both to create and offer to others. I feel that an activist needs to come home to a peaceful home in order to stay strong and centered and go back out there to do it all over again.When the new president took office, I felt paralyzed and made a poster which said, “Unite Against Hate”. I have helped create many tomb stones for an action that needed artists. I also made a life size coffin for another action. When I can, I will help with visual art part to empower the people that are on the front lines.
Being a fluid, eclectic artist, I have recently playfully embraced and reclaimed this thing called “a tie.” My mono-print ties and resin bow ties are warm, playful, colorful accessories. Although they are traditionally considered a male accessory, I have given them a flair that invites a much more universal audience to share in the world of ties. On a personal level, when I put on a tie that I have made along with a hat that I have painted and a shirt that I have printed, there is a joyful harmony that floats through me. This joyful harmony is what I want to share with others.
Are you an advocate for the LGBTQ Community?
Yes, as a younger person I participated in all the rallies and marches. Now, my wife and I are a part of The StoneWall Foundation and in our way support the LGBT community.
Tell us about a day in your life?
The beauty of what I do is that no day is the same. For example, today I am home for this interview. Most weekdays I spend at least 6 hours in my studio engaged in the creative process. For me this is Food. In the early morning I meditate and say thanks for the abundance of gifts I have in my life and at night before I fall asleep I do the same thing. My days are filled with keeping all my projects up in the air. I am just now learning how to pass some of the work on to other persons and this is an exciting growth spurt for me. At the end of the day, I am always happy to sit with my wife and share a light bite to eat and catch up on both our days. After that, most evenings I am still editing pictures or uploading works of art to a site or building a campaign for one of my projects. I have a very good quality of life and am grateful for it every day.