April 29, 2018
All month, snow and cold, and cold and snow had tried our collective spirits. Because there is really nothing we can do, waiting becomes a kind of surrender. I watched my daughter, Antara surrender with grace and wit as her "spring" wedding day was slammed with a historic blizzard with snowfall over 15 inches! Rich with stories, it has become even more magical and memorable.
In the art fair world, we artists know all about waiting. We apply for much coveted shows -- sometimes two or three at a time, even the same weekend -- to fill the show season. Then we wait weeks to hear the results. Within that space of waiting is the illusion/expectation/imagining outcome, and creating art for the great shows we will, hopefully get into. Results come, we're in YAY! or out NAY… or as what happened to me this year with the dear Marion, IA show is: WAIT LIST. Not in nor out, but in limbo. Waiting...Life goes on and the challenge is to continue to be in life, rather than just in waiting.
Sometimes artists are called off the wait list -- early, months or weeks before the show . Sometimes it can be at the very last minute. If a show is REALLY good, wait listed artists may even pack up, go to the show and wait -- to see if some unfortunate artist has had to cancel and give up their spot.
Of course, we all spend time waiting -- in the checkout line, in traffic, baby to be born...it is such an opportunity, when we are aware, to find patience, to be present in those moments. Or, if need be, if possibility arises -- to shift and take action. So I decided to stop waiting for the Marion show, and took myself off the wait list. It is the same weekend as the fabulous Art A Whirl in NE Minneapolis -- so now my whole heart and energy will go there! And, in the last week, with temperatures in the 60's -- the earth has started to green, and I've put the snow shovels away!
March 29, 2018
Art reminds us of what we love by capturing or reflecting the beauty of nature, our human-ness and the way we are interconnected.
One beautiful example is the Coral Reef project started by two Australian sisters, Margaret and Christine Wertheim. They were mourning the dying of the Great barrier reefs, and decided to honor them in hyperbolic crocheted form -- creating an amazing art piece that has been shown around the world, and has inspired and informed the millions who have seen it. Also inviting communities to co-create, making the project perhaps the largest community art project in the world.
I have been thinking about this idea quite a bit over time. As a child of the 60's-70's, I have embraced "power of the people" activism. I have also come to trust the powerful, radical act, steeped in imagination, of creating something that didn't exist before -- for the sheer love of it -- and because, ultimately, it will change the world!
Art is where imagination lives, flourishes, runs free. Art is where we practice imagination. Art in the making is a personal journey and can heal us. Through art we are connected to the mystery, a way to get out of our thinking minds, into the realm of metaphor and magic. In art, we find our own power, our own voice. We, as art makers understand process and problem solving. In turn, we understand that change is process, it is not linear and there are many ways of change. Change may not be big or momentous, but can happen in each moment.
Art can change the world is a bold statement, and in my heart of hearts, I know it is true. Can I prove it? There are many instances where an image, a story, a book or music has galvanized protest or revolution. But just by asking for "proof", I am invoking the objective, fact based mentality that is so prevalent in our culture today. I make this claim, however, from the subjective realm where faith, heart, soul, and importantly, our imaginations reside.( Of course, we are much more complicated than this dualistic paradigm suggests.) So a more fitting question might be -- what does art changing the world look like?
I want to tell you about a local Minneapolis organization called Art to change the world, brought together by multi media artist Barbara Bridges. Fundamental to the ACW mission is the notion that bringing art and the natural/social sciences together deepens cultural understanding and critical thinking, magnifying the potential for change.
January 29, 2018
It was a good old fashioned snow storm -- over 12 inches of snow in one day! White blanketed everything: schools closed, skiers whisk by on unplowed side streets, gleeful kids sliding in the park, everyone shoveling or snowblowing, cars stuck, even buses in a snowbank. What is this strange and tenacious frozen stuff? Besides the sheer beauty of pristine white, trees and bushes now cloaked in snow frocks --another kind of blessing happens. Back to the cars, stuck and spinning wheels in the unplowed street. Suddenly, as if magic, people appear out of nowhere, shovels in hand, to dig and push. Strangers and neighbors up and down the block working together. It is a sweet reminder that we are all in this together, that kindness prevails.
December 29, 2017
As I look back on this last year, it has been filled with struggles and also many blessings. It is heartbreaking to witness the frightening and unpredictable decisions of our misguided leaders. It is galvanizing to act, resist and sometimes see change. It is a time for "hope in the dark," to keep faith in what we know is possible. In the north, in Minnesota where I live, we have been in this literal darkness. Now, with the holidays passing we have this great opportunity to sink into that darkness: to reflect, to hibernate, to go deep... In the studio, I use this time for essential creative rest, to nurture new ideas, to experiment ---and clean my studio! And then there are the blessings! My heart dances in deep and joyful gratitude for all of YOU! Once again, throughout this year, we have met in my little white art tent, in the cities and parks across the region and shared stories. You have responded with love and support to my creative expression -- and what I learn from you inspires me to keep making -- to keep creating my "hand made life"
Wishing you much joy and abundance in the coming year. -Brenna
November 29, 2017
Back in the familiar, those traveled, far away lands feel like a sweet, strange dream. So I bring back the memories and images to enliven my daily life so that I still carry that sense of adventure, where everything is new, unexpected, up to interpretation! I want to share just a few images that especially inspired me both in Prague and in the countryside of the Czech Republic.
I took another kind of trip in early October when I again participated in the "Art as Journey" workshop at the Art Colony in Grand Marais, MN with the amazing mentor and artist, Elizabeth Erickson.
Over the years, the figures that I have created have expressed my life events and journey, both in celebration and in healing. Recently I have been aware that my figures continue to be youthful. As I am aging, I want to explore that in my work -- to create images of the beauty, power and grief of this inevitable process.
This series, called "Co-signers of the Covenant" is a beginning. They are larger than I usually work, measuring more than 3 feet tall.
September 29, 2017
My studio is a smallish, cozy 1/2 of the upstairs of our humble home in South Minneapolis, with skylight, and windows overlooking the neighborhood. I have been creating here for 25 years! Early on, this allowed flexibility to be home with my sprouting daughter. I became used to working in short spurts, always the possibility of being interrupted, then finding my stride into the early morning hours when it seemed the rest of the city was asleep. I needed less sleep then...My studio is a sacred space, made holy by the process of so much creating. Those ah-has and transformations, frustrations of mistake, deep joy of work as play, and the pure satisfaction of creating with love -- loving what I do! The sense of comfort and calm overrides the chaos of materials stacked and stashed into all available places. When is the weather is fine, I overflow into our backyard, a natural place to work with sticks. My kiln lives in the basement, ever at the ready. Over the years I have tried out having a studio in one of the amazing artist buildings that blossom in the city, loving the comaraderie and community that artists together create. But I keep coming home, to this room of my own, where I can always touch in with my process, at any moment, where the last thing I do before sleep is come say goodnight to the dear ones being born...
August 29, 2017
I love my hands, so grateful for our common prehensile possibilities. I rejoice in all that hands can do -- and yet, there is a point where our original tool needs some support. That is when I reach, almost automatically to extend my hand, for one of my favorite tools. Of course the project or art medium defines which tool, and I have a whole new vocabulary of tool as I continue my exploration of clay. Wow, I could really "geek" out in the clay tool department, finding stamps to create images and textures, beautiful wooden pieces for shaping and carving, metal loops for hollowing out excess clay. All of those work well, great to hold and use, but I find that one of the most useful tools when it comes to creating detail in my images --- is the everyday, humble toothpick! So sometimes I find that need calls the tool -- and we get creative -- finding what works, so it might be a drinking straw for design, or a pine cone to imprint texture or a stiff brush used for painting, now creates lines in wet clay. Tools are about whatever works!!!
Here are some of my new clay pieces
July 29, 2017
the moonlight has torn the night skirt
drink wine, for a moment better than this is impossible to find
be happy, do not worry, since the moonlight
will long shine on the dust of one and all
I have been hearing the poems of this 12th century Persian poet, since my husband, Dan started composing music and began to sing them, several years ago. I have been listening closer with him as he has finished recording, and is listening for the final cut before production of his CD. They are deceptively simple. I have been contemplating the line: a moment better than this is impossible to find --and found myself wondering, which moment is this? Is it the moment when the moon, like deep awareness, reveals meaning of the unknown? Or is it the darkness itself? Or is it just being alive, and present to every moment -- no matter what that moment brings...
It does help, then when a moment is unequivocally a good moment. Like the many amazing moments that I had last month at Art Fair on the Square -- thank you Madison!!! The conversations and meetings with art lovers and buyers was truly inspiring. Also, I am honored to become part of the collection of Epic, an eclectic and visionary company whose intergalactic headquarters are located in Verona, just outside Madison, WI.
Below: images of recent Messenger/Message Series additions clay, acrylic paint, linden sticks
June 29, 2017
art lets our hearts break open... Marie Howe, poet
Breaking seems to be the "theme" of last month. It started when my dear daughter fell and fractured her ankle in three places, followed by my niece and two friends also falling and "breaking". While not on the same level, for the first time was the sad sight of my one of my clay pieces -- broken! With glue, my art piece, and our dear bodies with surgery, medicine, time to heal -- those broken places can be fixed. As Gloria Steinem has said "we are stronger at the broken places" Also, what nature teaches us is that breaking can be a breaking open. Think of a sprout coming out of seed and pushing through the earth to the light, or of a chick emerging from egg. When we break or break open -- it is a time, forced or chosen -- to stop and really be present with what is going on.
May 29, 2017
The artist's task is one of steadfast commitment to the art. Creative work requires a loyalty as complete as the loyalty of water to the force of gravity. Mary Oliver
Commitment and water – I saw the relationship a couple of weeks ago at my first outdoor show of the season in wonderful Marion, Iowa. It is a 25 year old show, only 50 artists in the city square of this quaint small town merged with Cedar Rapids. The weather forecast was bleak: rain and more rain. I am sure that every artist had the same doubts that I did – a one day show, how could this be any good? That is where commitment comes in. It's like keeping my word, and showing up. Of course, it is about the money, the booth fee already paid, place to stay arranged, the need to make our living – and it is more than that. There is a loyalty to the art that Mary Oliver talks about. Bringing our art to you, the public is part of that process. Sometimes there is a kind of magic that happens, like in Marion. Even though it rained constantly for two days – there were some clearings: notably when we set up our booths and when we tore down – and despite all the wet, the intrepid art lovers of Iowa really showed up. Of course it doesn't always turn out rosy. Like all street artists who make a living doing outdoor shows, I have been in those uncomfortable, risky and destructive weather situations where artists not only don't make money, but may loose their art or display. For the most part, over my 25 years, I have been lucky and blessed with your warmth, welcome and support. Thanks!