Interview: Chelsea Brown
Luca Curci talks with Chelsea Brown during Future Landscapes, third appointment of Borders Art Fair 2020, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
“I am an artist and poet based in Seattle, WA. I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts, Media and Culture from the University of WA, worked for Chihuly-trained International glass artist Martin Blank, and for the Bryan Ohno Art Gallery. I explore isolation in my work, using figures alone against a stark background, paired with symbols representing vulnerability, power, chaos, and order. To examine the isolation that comes from chronic illness, depression, and anxiety, each piece moves between color, black and white, dark and light, and ends with an air of resilience and hope“.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Chelsea Brown – Art is power. It is a direct opposition to the mundane. It changes the way I see the world and helps bring control and balance into every challenging situation I face. When someone creates, it is an honest expression, so there is an inescapable authenticity in art. This can be just for the artist, or it can be a form of communication that transcends language and distance.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
CB – My work typically explores isolation, but recently I have been working with the complexities around loss, including loss of control, loss of autonomy, and loss of love. For the last few years, I have had unexpectedly poor health, which has informed my work. I create work illustrating the female form, paired with symbols that represent power, vulnerability, and hope, to take back control of my body. This way, even on my worst days, I can still create a powerful piece that instills hope in myself and others.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
CB – The most challenging part of my process is if an idea does not work as a piece. A piece will often shift from beginning to end, as I change the composition or background, but the initial concept never waivers. If I work for a while and the concept still doesn’t work as a visual piece, sometimes I have to leave it behind. This is always hard because it feels like a loss to walk away when I see an idea so clearly in my head.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in society? And contemporary art?
CB – The artist must find the balance to observe society, yet also be a part of it. Our role as artists, especially contemporary artists, grows more valuable as the world closes because we have the ability to bring people together with our work. Through art, the artist can peacefully protest, connect people from around the world, and bring light to a dark time. Historically, after the darkest periods, there comes more creativity and art.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
CB – My style has been changing and expanding to use more color and layers to become more dimensional. Any leaves or flowers in a piece are separate from a body, which is separate from the background, and they layer on top of each other. These changes are creating more depth as I explore new themes in my work.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
CB – Both of my pieces in the exhibition were made during the quarantine. “Future” represents the loss we are feeling as we enter this strange new time, unsure of what we will continue to lose or what will return. “In the Light” is about depression and the importance of staying in the light when you feel yourself slipping into the dark. The festival’s theme Borders/Future Landscapes fits with these pieces because they are both about navigating our future inner landscapes as we enter another phase of the pandemic. We will have to continue to work through our fears, depression, anxiety, loss, and grief while we isolate and as we create our future post-pandemic world.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
CB – I enjoy the complexity of your exhibition themes and the artists and artwork that it draws in. This particular theme had a wonderful depth that is necessary right now with the current state of the world.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
CB – Yes, trying to navigate everything from a distance has been difficult and was made easier working with you.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us?
CB – I have had the opportunity to work with you in two exhibitions now in Italy, and would love to work with you again in Italy or in another country in the future. I have enjoyed the experience of meeting the people involved with ItsLiquid, The Room Contemporary Art Space, and other artists from around the world.
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
CB – I think you offer a lot to your artists, especially through social media. With the pandemic and the travel ban, being able to stay connected through social media was important and helped me feel like I was still a part of the exhibition from a distance.