Alexandra Mackenzie aka Petra Glynt is an artist and musician based in Toronto. She has a degree in printmaking from OCADU. Her work has been exhibited in Toronto, New York and San Francisco, as well as various festivals and fairs around the world. Because she temporarily moved to Montreal, we caught up with Alex while she was installing at the Gladstone Hotel for Love Design’s closing night party.
I’ve been playing music since I was a kid. I studied operatic voice when I was 7 to 18 years old. I made art, but music was first. I didn’t go to university for music. I went to U of T first and then realized that art school existed. I didn’t even know it existed! I majored in printmaking because I was super inspired by my friends Andrew Zukerman, Jeff Garcia and Jacob Horowitz. They were all making really beautiful screenprints and I was like, I need to know how to do that right now.
I’ve never had a proper studio. I’ve always worked out of my bedroom–just at a drawing table beside my bed. Recently, I moved from Toronto to Montreal because there was an opportunity for better live/work space. My intention was to focus on my music, but I was asked to do art projects for the Gladstone Hotel and Hunt Club in Toronto, which I’m more than happy to do.
Music is my primary but the art, the visual element, is another way for me to express what I want to express. There’s always a mission, a project. Right now, I’m working on a music album and then making a series of drawings to go with the album. I’ve been really taking my time with that project. It’s been a year since I started.
I’m trying to find a balance between art and music–trying to merge all the practices, skills and interests into one main message. It’s an ongoing adventure. I don’t have it all figured out. I feel like i’m constantly trying to figure out how to merge those worlds.
My brain is ok with working in different mediums. I can make the switch–I need to, I need to be able to switch gears. I like to make things with my hands, but then I also like the ephemeral nature of music and how powerful that can be. A lot of my work is about empowerment, the empowerment of communities or empowering the collective. Power in numbers! Music has the ability to be really make an effect.
Art has the capacity to be social but, so far, I’ve found the art world to be very commercial and that gets in the way for me. I really appreciate how social and supportive the music scene is. People are supportive of each other. It’s not competitive. It’s not about money. I have this dream where we all leave the city one day. I want to build a house in a tree, and then everyone can build their own houses if they want to. They don’t have to be treehouses. I just want to make a treehouse.
–Alexandra Mackenzie, as told to Studio Beat
Photos by Courtney Vokey