Friday, December 21, 2012

Comfort & Discomfort: Autumn Brown

Author: Heather Eck (OVAC Intern)
Autumn Brown, Security Blanket #3 (Baby Blanket), Fibers and Found Metal , 3’x3’x2” 2011-2012
Security blankets are supposed to comfort us; they are supposed to protect us from harm. Oklahoma City artist Autumn Brown explores her idea of a security blanket within her Concept/OK Survey exhibition piece, Baby Blanket. In Baby Blanket, a part of Brown’s Security Blanket series, warm feelings are most assuredly not the underlying intent. Instead, what you are offered is a harsh juxtaposition between a rusted grate and delicate, woven ribbon. Brown relates this juxtaposition to the comforts and discomforts of life itself, rousing the idea that the very things we do to feel secure might be damaging forces we use to blanket ourselves.

Q: What inspired you to create your Concept/OK Piece?
AB: The actual piece?  I was digging through a scrap yard. I liked the rusted grate and brought it home.  “Stewed” over it a while and then the piece happened.

Q: Ribbon is used quite often in your work. Is there any significance to this?
AB: I love the juxtaposition of soft fiber and hard rusted metal.  I am fascinated with the dialog between setting two such different materials against each other.  I enjoy using these materials, to express the duality that exists in our daily lives.  Ribbon seems to be one of the "more refined” versions of fibers/fabric, a perfect “match” to oppose harsh rusted metal.

Q: Has mixed media always been the media in which you work?
AB: No.  Started like most artists, who start young, in 2D.  I excelled in most mediums while studying art in college, though I found the dark room daunting and lonely.  During my required Intro to 3D class at Savannah College of Art and Design I discovered a new world of art.  From then on I have embraced 3D art as my main artistic pursuit.  Fiber Art (or mixed media if you will) evolved from there. 

Q: Can you describe the process in which you create a mixed media piece? What is your first step?
AB: Mentally, I prepare ideas for a group of work.  I settle on an idea and then work it into a “thesis.”  Then I start brainstorming through sketches and research.  I run these sketches pass my thesis to make sure they match up.  I refine sketches then make a list of needs.  That is when the fun starts!  I head to salvage yards, thrift stores, and junk yards.  After I collect everything I “think” I will need I start constructing.  Some pieces work out exactly as I planned.  Some pieces have to be reworked.  Then there are other pieces that come to birth sporadically during the above process.  These work themselves out a little less structured that the earlier but still go through a “refining” process.  Of course no matter what I am doing (cooking dinner, sleeping, laundry) I am working out ideas in my head.  

The Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma exhibition is open to the public through February 16, 2013  at the new Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council’s Hardesty Arts Center. See for more information. 

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