IN FLUX Creator Tells Us How It All Began
As the ninth cycle of IN FLUX artworks are installed throughout the Valley, we wanted to revisit how it all got started, so we invited Kirstin Van Cleef, former associate director of Scottsdale Public Art and creator of the IN FLUX initiative, to share how it all began. Here is what she had to say:
“These disquieting times have prompted many of us to look back and pause for introspection, and I am no exception. On being asked to share the origin story of IN FLUX, I was delighted to say yes. As I thought back on those memories, I realized the context in which I began working to launch IN FLUX over a decade ago aligns with my current context in two central ways.
“First, there was ongoing economic turmoil resulting in many large and small-scale impacts. Second, I considered myself extremely fortunate in that time—not only did I have a job, I was doing work I enjoyed and was trusted to find and propose creative solutions. IN FLUX was one of those solutions, and I couldn’t believe my luck when I was given the go-ahead to start a pilot program, which eventually became the first cycle of this initiative, now entering its ninth cycle of installations and events.
“This first cycle launched after a great deal of research, planning, feedback, more research, and more planning. I had been following the emerging trend of temporary public art installations in vacant storefront spaces during the recession and paired this concept with a desire to support and contribute to the development of the Arizona artist community. After a successful first cycle, but without an increase in funding, I sought collaborators to expand opportunities and awareness.
“Thanks to a meeting convened by the Arizona Arts Commission, I met my first partner, Maja Aurora, who works for the city of Tempe and remains a dear friend to this day. After that, the initiative continued to grow and change each year. We gained and lost collaborators; when the economy improved, we shifted from vacant storefronts; we hosted dozens of coffee talks to help artists with their applications; and we held events to celebrate their completed projects.
“I moved away from Arizona and my work for Scottsdale Public Art as IN FLUX Cycle 6 installations began. I always cared deeply about the initiative being a collaborative and ever-evolving space to respond to any context our communities found themselves in, and I am humbled to see it continue from a distance to this day. I am certain that seeing IN FLUX carry on is one of the most fulfilling experiences I will ever have, and I am endlessly grateful for this and the timely reminder it brings that we can make good things when we keep creating and come together.”
Kirstin Van Cleef began as an intern at Scottsdale Public Art and departed as associate director more than nine years later. She and her partner moved to the small island city of Alameda in the East Bay of San Francisco in 2015, where they are still happy and thriving to this day. Kirstin is currently the director of public programs at the California Institute of Integral Studies, a nonprofit university in San Francisco, and a member of the City of Alameda Public Art Commission.
Be sure to stay tuned over the coming weeks as we get a deeper look into each IN FLUX artist’s studio and how they created their work for Cycle 9.