Get to know the Artivist revolutionising Vancouver's art scene
Krystal Paraboo is a multifaceted curator shaking up the art scene through public art activation, independent curation, and community-building projects. Self-proclaimed artivist, Krystal is all about centering artists whose access to the industry and gallery representation are so often stifled by racist marginalisation.
Tune into this episode to hear Cyd Eva interview Krystal about the trajectory of her career, and the ways she is working to spotlight BIPOC artists. As well as her future goals to support fellow curators and artists through mentorship and business coaching.
Having grown up with a love for theatre, Krystal Paraboo went on to study history of art at university. This led her to start thinking about the different ways artists could tell stories interculturally, utilizing space and merging contemporary and traditional practices. Having spent time working at galleries and expanding her portfolio, Krystal saw a gap between artists that were centered in the Vancouver scene and artists who didn't have access to those spaces at all. Seeing an abundance of underground talent, Krystal started doing independent curation for shows that would bring people more access to high-scale spaces and communities.
I call myself an artivist because in my art career, there is a form of activism to amplify marginalised voices
For Krystal the development of her career has taken her in directions she didn't imagine would be possible. "I have landed in a place that brings [together] urban planning with public art... it intersects with a lot of things I'm passionate about - community building, antiracism, and centering art in the process". As an activator of artistic opportunities and change, Krystal embodies the term artivist explaining how "in my art career, there is a form of activism to amplify marginalised voices". She goes onto explain how much of her mission is currently focused on making "more room for BIPOC curators who are up and coming and providing mentorship as they navigate their journey through it".For Krystal, she has witnessed firsthand how the lack of education around the business side of art means artists are often exploited. This has motivated Krystal to help them learn how to make smarter, money-focused decisions and mindsets
You have to be a visionary to be a successful curator, you're the architect of visual storytelling so it is an art form. But artists are overlooked by the general public and curators are overlooked in the art system and the public
When discussing the importance of her own identity within the society she is helping shape and build, Krystal explains how "I am proud of my roots. I'm the most liberated my bloodline has been in centuries and I'm proud to be fighting and doing what I'm doing for my ancestors who basically built this entire continent". This reality is something that shines through in the artists Krystal spotlights and the intentions that go into each new project she is involved in. When talking about the progress of her position within the industry, Krystal shares how "as I'm growing in my career that's also me growing more confident and comfortable in my identity as a descendant from stolen bodies on stolen land."
I am proud of my roots. I'm the most liberated my bloodline has been in centuries and I'm proud to be fighting and doing what I'm doing for my ancestors who basically built this entire continent
Having been awarded the Women of Distinction Award in the Arts, Culture & Design by YMCA '22, it is clear what an immense impact Krystal is having on the ground. Acting as a reminder of the power of art in changing mainstream narratives for future generations to learn from. As we sit in awe of the work Krystal is doing, we hold onto her words of advice regarding life's turbulent ups and downs, explaining how "every tragic experience I go through, I end up loving myself even deeper because it becomes a learning experience for me." With that sense of sassy self-worth, we can only imagine what greatness Krystal Paraboo will go on to activate in both her own career and of the artists she supports.
When do you feel most confident?
When I'm presenting something that I created in front of an audience. And also when I'm natural, with curly hair, no makeup, comfy clothes, and walking in nature.
What key experience has shaped you positively?
Tho it is a very negative experience, I'd say George Floyd's death and BLM, it provided this shift in the way most people approach anti-blackness and equity work in general.
One dream you wish to come true?
For racism to not exist and capitalism not to exist.
One cause that's close to our heart?
Reparations for Black people - not just monetary but also for Governments to recognise the damage from the transatlantic slave trade and find ways to provide reparations for Black people
Best thing about being you?
My heart and my loyalty - I pour out love and loyalty and I think that's very rare these days.
Name your Sassy tracklist?
Nova Twins - Antagonist
Black Belt Eagle Scout - At the Party
Sad China - Hum1n Devours remix
Babe Heaven - Sea Bird
Basic Instinct - Saturn Returns
Interview by Cyd Eva
Podcast edit and graphics by Bx Sassy