Checking in with Kevin Everson


 What are you working on right now?

I’ve got to finish up a film that I shot at Vassar College last March called A House in the North Country based on a play by a friend and co-writer Talaya Delaney. And then this spring break we’ll be shooting a feature up there in Poughkeepsie. Right now, I’m about to go to Rotterdam to screen a series of films about Africa that [the International Film Festival] commissioned me to produce.

Kevin Everson’s favorite artists outside his medium? “I’m not a comic, so I guess Richard Pryor. I’m not a beatmaker, so George Clinton or Pete Rock.”

What were you doing when we called?
I just got done talking to students about what they’re going to work on while I’m in Europe. We’re working on kind of a John Waters-esque, Paul McCarthy-esque, psychosexual mondo film, so they got together to write and plot it on Thursday, and built the set on Friday, and shot it on Sunday. They should get their footage back soon, and they’re going to get together in groups of two and cut their portion of it. It’s about a psycho family in a funeral home, and I gave them a list of things that have got to be in it, based on movement and technical ability. Some of the things are just funny, stupid shit. John Waters spoke to the class, and gave us some suggestions for things to put in the film when he came last November, during the Film Festival.
If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who?
Nat Turner. He’s the greatest American who ever lived. There should be a Nat Turner holiday. We write about Spartacus, but why not recognize one of our own?
Tell us about teaching at UVA.
It’s fun. The kids here want to make films, so it isn’t like I have to twist their arms or anything like that. I teach not in terms of big narrative film, but about the relationship between the artist and the medium, how artists express their content. So the kids make experimental films, documentaries, narratives, flicker films—I like for them to create their own world and have their own ideas, as opposed to them making a heist film or some shit like that.
What music are you listening to lately?
I’m listening to breakbeats and stuff like that, old school hip-hop from the ’90s and ’80s. ’82 and ’88 were the best years for hip-hop, so that kind of stuff. I like soul music.
What is your earliest artistic or creative memory from childhood?
I think my cousins and brothers and I worked on a comic book or something like that. But I wasn’t very good at it. Mostly it was stuff like Spider-Man, copying artists like Gil Kane. But I didn’t really do anything with art until I got to college. I was kind of a jock.
If you’re on a blind date, what’s the dealbreaker?
I haven’t been on a blind date since I was like 19. But I grew up in a culture that promoted respect for the working classes, so I like to see how people treat the help—you know, like the waiter or whomever, and if the person I’m with starts complaining about the help, that’s a dealbreaker for me.

Do you have a favorite building?
The Pantheon in Rome. But I’ve also got a favorite public sculpture. It’s a piece by Paul McCarthy, this world-famous artist. He made a huge sculpture of Santa Claus holding a butt plug in Rotterdam. I’ve got a ton of pictures of that. And in Cleveland, I remember this Claes Oldenburg sculpture in a park, a huge stamp with the word “FREE” on it. I love public art.
What would you do if you know that you couldn’t fail?
Well, you have to fail a little bit to make art. You learn from your mistakes. I wouldn’t want not to fail.