In the English language, “Pansy” is both the name of a beautiful flower and a derogatory word towards gay people. But for Toronto-based artist duo and couple Kris Andy & Andrew Walker, “Pansy” was the queerest name they could use to baptize their splendidly naughty ceramic production line.
Through the reappropriation of this word and their revisited, vintage housewares, Kris & Andy cheekily explore and celebrate sexuality, fetish, and queerness in their most positive and funny aspects.
Let’s meet the duo behind it all!
Hello Kris & Andy, and welcome to Visual Satiation!
Let’s start with an introduction: Can you guys tell us a bit more about yourselves? How did you two meet?
We are Kris and Andy, a couple and artist duo based in Toronto, Canada.
We met through a friend when Andy was living in Montreal and started Pansy Ass in 2015 as a creative project we could work on together.
When did you decide to work together, and at what point did it evolve into “Pansy?”
We started it for fun in 2015 as something fun we could work on together. At the time we were upcycling vintage ceramics and plates and over the following two years we began taking clay classes to learn how to make our own creations. We chose Pansy Ass for the name because we wanted it to be a little shocking, and we love the associate on gays with pansies. It is a prolific flower, basically in everyone’s garden, and its delicate and beautiful.
The idea that it is used as a derogatory term is kind of ironic in a way.
Henrik Witte, 1868
What about your respective backgrounds shaped each of you as artists?
Kris went to art school and studied painting and drawing, and also works in graphic design, and I studied liberal arts, language and geography. Neither of us were formally trained in ceramics, we learned through a couple of classes at the Gardiner Museum (a ceramics focused museum in Toronto) and a lot of trial and error in the studio.
I think that we were drawn to ceramics because there is more a bit more freedom, it is easier to have a sense of humour with it. People relate to it in a different way than they do with other mediums.
What triggers your creativity? What themes or fetishes are you guys exploring the most through your designs lately?
We try to express what’s going on in our community and culture. We want people to see what turns them on and be able to put in in their curio cabinets. Lately we are trying to think about what’s going on with people’s sex lives during quarantine, how we are interacting and getting down online.
You guys first started by collecting and customizing vintage pieces with gay images and words before starting to create your own. You went on to become quite popular and participate in many shows and exhibitions.
How do you guys work as a duo? What is your collaborative process?
We brainstorm ideas together, and then split the work based on our preferences and skills. Andy does a lot of the sculpting and mold making, and I do more of the surface decorating and finishing.
You also know perfectly well that, while social media can help increase visibility and grow your brand, it also exposes you to all sorts of shady people with internet access.
What’s your relationship with them?
Considering the high graph content of some of your work, how do you deal with the infamous censorship?
We decided a few years ago to make our social media private. One day we received a lot of negative attention and decided to make it an opt-in situation.
Since then we have had very few issues with photos being removed and shady people attacking us. We don’t get the same exposure we would have but we keep growing and we feel a lot of love and support from the people who choose to follow.
Who are your gay heroes?
We have so many gay heroes!
We have deep admiration for any queer person who is out and proud when it’s courageous to do so like the men and women and members of the trans community at Stonewall.
We’ve been afforded so many opportunities and freedoms because of the aging members of our community and for that we’re deeply indebted.
How’s your quarantine going so far?
So far so good!
We are lucky to have a fairly private studio where we can work safely.
We were really worried that this may be the end of us, but we have been very lucky to keep working and have collectors continue to support us.
What are the places you’re not allowed to go right now that you’re missing the most? / What was the first place you returned to after the lockdown?
It seems silly, but bars and restaurants for sure. These are the places where we do most of our celebrations and socializing.
Besides creating delicate, horny designs together in your studio, what other passions characterize each of you?
Kris is really passionate about music, he also works as a Dj and party promoter. I’m a little more nerdy, and I’m into nature and botany.
Ok, let’s be honest now: who’s your all-time favorite queen of Rupaul’s Drag Race?
So for Kris, it is Katya, he’s a kook and thinks she is the most hilarious.
For me it is Naomi Smalls, she is so incredible to watch and she’s a collector.
We have got to talk to her a bit and she is very kind, generous and supportive… and that face! Stunning.
Katya Zamolodchikova by Sean M. Johnson
Naomi Smalls by Guss Woltumn
If you could be any fetish gear, which one would you be and why?
I think a Jockstrap, we like to get right in there.
Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Tom of Finland Foundation & Print All Over Me Apparel Collection
What are you hilariously bad at (respectively)?
We are actually both extremely clumsy. Which is kind of a disaster working with ceramics.
Kris, you must know lots of music, since you’re also a DJ. Can you recommend to our dear readers stuck at home one of your favorite records?
Andy, what’s the best thing you’ve watched at home during your quarantine?
K: My absolute favorite album start to finish is “World Clique” by Deee-Lite. I loved it when it came out when I was a kid and it still stands the test of time. I’ve recently revisited Gil Scott-Heron’s album remixed by Jamie XX called “We’re New Here” during quarantine and it’s hauntingly beautiful. Also check out my Soundcloud to hear some of my disco mixes!
A: TIGER KING! Fuck Carol Baskin!
Kris & Andy <3
Thanks a lot for being with us, Kris and Andy!
We wish you the best of luck in the future.
Keep up the good work, and stay healthy!
Facebook: Pansy Ass Ceramics