This series, "Messenger/Message" rests somewhere between a prayer and a dance -- with birds as a familiar, yet powerful metaphor. The winged ones, are messengers from the sky/spirit world to us earth bound humans. They remind us to find and cherish that wild and spirited place inside of ourselves.
and now we hibernate…
January 29, 2020
Ah, January --- I actually look forward to this time. After the hub bub of creating, holiday shows and gatherings --this yearly cold, snow and dark bring to us lucky Northerners a kind of enforced hibernation. It is a slowing down, an invitation to be still, go inward, a chance to reflect. We experience this season in stark reality -- everything around us has either died or gone dormant, frozen, buried under a blanket of snow. Reminding us to -- slow down, be still...
Perhaps because we spend more time indoors now, it seems a good time to attend to immediate surroundings. My ritual this time of year is to deep clean my studio, which tends to be a bit chaotic after the season of making. It has become an essential part of my creative process, a way of remembering the past year, and preparing for the next one. I organize materials and clear out those I no longer use. Sort, consider, let go. I dig out pieces started months or even years earlier and abandoned, to reassess. Some of them just don't work, and are "let go". Others, I can see what finishing they need, or I can just "see" them. This series of pieces shown below are resurrected from two years ago. Made during this January time of beginning again, I was joyfully immersed in the earthy aliveness of clay and inspired to try something different. They are an experiment, both putting the figure in a context, and playing with abstracting the figure. I like them better now, after time. I am intrigued by them and want to keep working with this idea. What do you think?
As always, I appreciate your interest and continued support!
blessings of this unfolding year ----Brenna
I call this series, "la femme/la terre --merge/emerge" clay with paint 7"X 5"
Mayhem of Holiday Making!
November 29, 2019
As an artist, creating for a living — I have, year after year, (for 29 years!) — given myself over to the energy of this season. As we all know, it is a time of giving, whether out of sincere joy, or the “shoulds”.
With so many holiday shows and markets, and people in this spirit, it is a great opportunity to see my creations be spirited away to new homes. Something fun and different happens to me in the studio during this time. I become the proverbial elf, fully embodied as a maker. To be a maker is all about working with my hands, to feel the textures and the challenge of materials, to make pieces that I can hold in my hand. For ease, I make the same design again and again. I still think of them as series, but the differences are slight, the vagaries of my hand. I make these to celebrate the small and offer to my dear buyers, the range of price that I value, so that my work can be accessible and affordable. Each piece carries a message of meaning, from my heart to yours! I am so grateful to all of you insightful buyers who know the added wonder of giving a gift made by hand.
New life – and little things
October 29, 2019
Everything shifts, when looking into the eyes of a new life — a minutes old baby, raw from the miracle of stardust to zygote to being— newly pushed from her water world where every need is met — to embodied earth — to breathe to cry to feel. I think of all of us at birth as enacting this evolutionary pageant, moving from water beings to earth dwellers.
My dear granddaughter, Alma was born in early September (Labor day to be exact) and my heart exploded! The privilege of being the mother’s mother is a welcome into that sacred female lineage. Mother to daughter to daughter…. I love the mother my daughter is becoming, so calm, true, filled with love and curiosity. So the month of September, I spent offering support and hands on help in the chaotic unknown world of newborn. Infants are a great paradox — so tiny and vulnerable, and yet so powerful, and so incredibly captivating!
Then, I went back to my studio and I turned into an elf! Happy hands in clay making dear “little things”. Harkening back to when I was a child and spend blissful hours making humble little gifts from humble materials. So I have some fun new “littles” and some new “bigs” too and some “inbetweens” all in time for great holiday shows that I am excited to be a part of -- so I hope to see you at one of the shows if you are local. Feel free to contact me if any of these pieces call to you, from wherever you are.
Keep in touch,
Sometimes, creating is just hard work!
July 29, 2019
Change -- sometimes it takes looking back, to see where we have come...
As many of you know, dear followers and collectors, in the past three, years I have changed my art medium. I'm still creating the figure, but instead of the plethera of materials that I used before, I have simplified. No more: buttons, zippers, CD's, broken mirror pieces, seed pods, rusty metal, bottle caps, shredded money, rocks, keys, broken jewelry, beads, safety pins, nails, jingle bells, puzzle pieces, on and on... (you can see some examples on my website) Over the last 25 years I was recipient of the the broken and curious STUFF that we all somehow accumulate and then don't want. I saw possibilities and would use them on the sewn fabric body of my figures, becoming a metaphor for our human condition, the things we carry, or just kind of fun! As I age, I crave simplicity. Perhaps too, in response to our increasingly complicated lives. Now, I create with just clay, paint and sticks. In the meantime, my studio and attic still held all of that stuff --- bags and boxes and bins -- until, this last month -- when I went through and cleared and sorted. I donated boxes of these "raw materials" to ArtScraps in St. Paul -- a creative resource for workshops and artist materials. Fur coats (that I had once used for hair) I donated to Cuddle coats, where they will be used to comfort injured wild animals. The attic also held some pieces from the past, stashed away because they didn't work. Now, with some changes, they now have a new life. So all of this clearing out has freed up energy and space in my studio and in my psyche. There is a gentle sadness too, in this letting go, saying goodbye to this part of my creative life.
In the company of women…
June 29, 2019
I have found support, compassion, reflection, challenge, hope-- in my journey of art and life.
Just returning from an art retreat with one of my current, and newly formed art groups (blessed to be in two!) I am reminded how much I enjoy and need this kind of interaction — and realize that in more informal ways, and earlier art groups — I have never been without it. Growing up with three sisters, we were our own tribe. Still close, we are sounding board to each other, and ongoing support. My first formal art group in the 1980’s helped me define myself as an artist and a feminist. After a decade, that group gave way to another. More focused on the specific art form of “doll”, this group did exhibitions, workshops, collaborative pieces. After this group also ended, I became immersed in the WARM (Women’s Art Resources of MN) mentor program with constant interaction with women around art and process. Then of course, once I started doing shows, I found another cadre of artists that “had my back” offering advice, feedback, on the ground help, and homes away from home. I surround myself with female-ness in my art. All of my figures are female. I decided this when I was pregnant with my daughter. I wanted her first “world” to be filled with images of woman who are complicated, whimsical, wise, funny — and have soul beauty. Our culture needs that. And there are all of you, my dear collectors and observers. For the most part, you are women, and you have sustained me with your support, feedback, great conversation, inspiration — all of these years. I am so grateful to all of the women in my life — here and gone — and yet to come!
what kind of art should we artists make?
May 29, 2019
Perhaps that seems like an odd question. Why would I ask you that?
It is true of most artists these days, that we go into our studios and create what we want, perhaps intuitively picking up the needs of the culture, but mostly deciding what pleases us. It didn’t used to be this way. As Alain de Botton and John Armstrong point out in their book, Art as Therapy, for much of history, governments and religion decided what kind of art should be made and provided the resources for artists to make them. These time periods valued art as a “fundamental shaper of personality and public life”
In this light, art had a purpose beyond being an aesthetically pleasing addition to our homes or workplaces. What was essentially propaganda to espouse values dictated by the church and governments; even if they are values we can support, is an anathema to our current capitalist, secular culture. The authors premise is that we as a culture should not have to struggle to understand modern art, but that “the agenda for art in a liberal society would be to assist the individual soul in its search for consolation, self understanding and fulfillment “ they propose commissioning art that grapples with the very issues we all deal with to become a guide or reflection in “the direct task of helping us achieve self knowledge, remember forgiveness and love - and to remain sensitive to the pains suffered by our ever troubled species and our urgently imperiled planet.” Whew! This is an intriguing idea because it brings artists into the fold of the community — and art as having a central role in depicting and clarifying our values. We would be challenged by art in a meaningful way. As part of my creating, I ask myself, what do we people need right now in the way of comfort, inspiration, healing? I haven’t asked YOU directly, my dear collectors and supporters. So here it is, what kind of art do you need right now?
Being Human – Cycle Of Life
March 29, 2019
It has been a couple of months since I last connected with all of you -- and a huge shift has happened in my life: my mother has died. A beautiful death -- she, Eleanor vibrant until the last hours-- with hospice, at home, our close family singing her on her way. It is an archetypal moment -- where we all must stand at some point in our lives. Mother -- our gateway to life, with all of the complicated years of growing in her guidance and her shadow. A profound loss, and also a kind of freedom.
In the midst, my daughter, Antara shared the sweet, joyous news that she and Zach are pregnant with their first child! With joy and sadness swirling, I traveled to Mexico for our annual art camp retreat. There, I mostly wrote, and created with the environment. I would like to share some of my findings with you.
A Jumble Of Thoughts – Warm And Wondering…
December 29, 2018
Even as solstice has promised sun's return, the days are still short, the nights long. At rest now, from the year of creating and being in the world, I am like the trees outside my window, sap to roots, going inward to reflect. With my art, this last year feels rich and rewarding. I stretched more into my exploration of clay, the figure in clay. Meeting and re-meeting all of you added another layer of beauty, with your stories, feedback, great conversations. You also honored me by taking my beloved clay beings into your homes, to live in your most cherished and visited places. I am so grateful to all of you, as we join together in this circle of creating.
And as always, whether we embrace it or not -- change is afoot!. As I ruminate and incubate about this next year's art season, I am set to wondering. I have been saying for some time that when I turn 70, I will no longer travel to do art shows. Yikes! I will be 70 this summer, so here I am standing in what was always the future. As you are aware, shows are physically taxing -- making enough work, traveling the distance, hours of setting up and tearing down booths, weather challenges, not even knowing if we will sell our work... In addition, I have long thought, in terms of climate change, there is crazy much fossil fuel use in doing shows. The artists coming from all parts of the country, the dear patrons coming, sometimes by the thousands. What is the cost to our dear planet? How can we change this? The erratic and destructive weather has become a risk to artists. Yet, as soon as I contemplate not doing shows, I am sad, already missing the immediate feedback, encouragement, connections, and the great energy of the festival! I am perplexed, as well. My art process over these last 30 years is so tied with deadlines, sharing, showing and letting go. In the absence of that, I am not sure what would happen to my creative flow. As with all change -- it will unfold with time -- and I have a bit yet...so, OK, I will begin this year by slowing down, staying closer to home, doing fewer shows. Then I will see what emerges, pay attention to what else is calling me. After all, artists never really retire, we just create something else!
In celebration of the small
November 29, 2018
This time of year always brings out the elf in me, and I turn again to making small beings. The practical and "art for all" side of me sees an opportunity to offer you, my dear collectors, a fun, whimsical and budget considerate piece of art for gifts or for yourself. There is also a deeper reason, and it feels like a body memory. As a child, my little hands were happy and busy making small things with the limited and humble materials at hand: paper, crayons, pipe cleaners --both to amuse myself, and to be able to give something...There is a preciousness in something small, stirring in us the desire to lean in, look closely. Little things can get lost in the clutter of the much and the big, so it takes a discerning eye to seek them out, to see. Small can be detailed and complex, like miniatures, or as I like to express small, more simple, essential, just enough. Check out some of the small beings below: