Saturday, July 14, 2012

Who Are You Making This For?

Yesterday my husband and I went to an opening reception for local artist Nancy Brittelle.  Her work is on display in Blowing Rock at Arts and Artifacts on Sunset.  

The announcement for the reception was in the one of our local newspapers, and the description of her work made me very curious so we went!  When I entered the room where her work was displayed, it took my breath away!  It was one of those moments when you see something beautiful and say to yourself, why didn't I think of that?

 Nancy incorporates things that all of us throw away when ever we receive something in the mail!  Boxes, packing materials like Styrofoam, egg cartons, and "peanuts."  She arranges them into patterns, adheres them to a surface and then paints them with a combination of metallic paints like silver, copper, and bronze.  Who would have ever thought that such materials that everyone throws away (or recycles in the usual way) could be assembled to create such beautiful pieces of art?  Not me, but I wish I had!

 As my husband and I stood there, practically with our mouths open, Nancy approached us to thank us for coming.  We didn't know her, but I feel like we made a friend.  She was so warm and delightful!  My husband BK used to run a gallery here in Boone many years ago and is familiar with many of the now famous local artists around here.  So he told her why and how he was so impressed with her work (does that make sense?).  Her response seemed genuinely delighted that he would express such interest in her.  She was very open to answering our questions and was very articulate in her descriptions.  Bottom line, she fascinated us!

As did her work.  I couldn't find pictures of my favorite pieces so I must describe the amazing imagery and intricacy of some of the pieces at the show.  My favorite piece was a large one that hung vertically and was divided into horizontal spaces of repetitious forms. These forms were wine bottles!  We used to have wine shipped to us and I thought, what a shame to throw these Styrofoam forms away....certainly we could use them for something!  She created a line of patterns using the positive side of the shape, then in another line she used the negative side of the shape!  She also used other pieces of Styrofoam to repeat smaller patterns to frame and divide up the larger sections.  I wish I could describe it better, but it was almost spiritual (pardon the pun!) to behold it.

Another piece that held me spell bound was a smaller one with intricate spaces.  It compelled me to get closer to see the details.  In this piece she used strips of the very thick (but not dense) cardboard to create patterns of spaces.  This was the kind of cardboard that is two horizontal sheets divided by many many lighter vertical sheets.  The impression was of little secret spaces all different and all magical little doors of curiosity.  I wish you could see it!

Something she said about her jump, moving  from realistic 2D work to 3D nonobjective work left me thinking.  

She was extremely well known for her drawings and paintings of old places "still standing" around the countryside of Watauga County.  Her work in this genre sold extremely well and people were dying for her to do more and more.  She recently went to Italy and took tons of pictures with the intention of coming home to continue in the same vein of successful, sales worthy work.  However, when she started trying to churn it out, she hit a wall and just didn't feel the same energy to create it.  

She asked herself, "Who am I making this for?"  A light bulb came on and she realized that painting for someone else wasn't what made her happy.  She needed to do art for HERSELF!  That's when the light bulb came on for me!

I churn out beads all the time with the pure intention of making some money.  Well yeah, I gotta pay for my glass and gas somehow, but is it making me happy?  More than often, I find myself veering away from "the plan," and I just play with my molten, colorful, reactive glass.  It's not always about success, even fails can be fun.  That's when I'm making beads for me.  

As artists, that's the best thing we can do for ourselves, is just create to please YOU.  The more you do it, the more likely it will be that you end up doing something that pleases others in ways that exceed your own expectations.  How awesome that must feel!

So I leave you now to explore the links above to the story of Nancys' work on her website, and in the news paper stories about her.  There you can get a feel for the warm, lovely and talented lady she is, plus see more of her work.


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