inner space (series)
if you ever want to be transported to a world of psychedelic spirituality, look no further than the artwork of brandi strickland. she is a north carolina-based mixed media collage and illustration artist, and her talents know no boundaries. i first heard of her when i wrote about the WAFA collective a little while back (she’s one of their contributing artists) and i was completely enthralled with her work. the mix of color, pattern and symbolic imagery is so complex that when you view details of her collages up close you will notice far more than what you see at first glance. once i reached out to her and asked her some questions for the blog, i liked her even more- and i identify so much with the way she started out as an artist.
read on for an interview with brandi and to see much more of her rad artwork.
when did you start making collages and why?
I guess it started with a childhood love of magazines. By middle school I’d collected lots of them and eventually, you know, my closet was so full that I had to clear some space. I couldn’t bear to part with the great imagery inside, so I began clipping out the things I liked. There was no artistic intent at this point, I was just keeping nice pictures around. Soon after, I obtained a jar of mod podge and started decoupaging everything I could find with the magazine clippings I’d collected.
Collecting and re-contextualizing found imagery became my favorite activity and scissors and adhesives became my preferred tools. In high school I wrote a lot, but over time, my journals morphed from word books to image books. In college I finally freed my collages from books and craft objects and began making ‘proper’ works on paper, canvas and board. My basic mode of working hasn’t changed much — funny to think I’ve been making art this way for half my life now.
some of your pieces are so complex- do you have an idea of how they’re going to look beforehand or does it just sort of come together a certain way as you work?
Most of the time I have no idea or only the first spark of an idea. I find an element or a few elements that work together, then begin building around that framework. Usually at some point I start to form a vision of what it will take to resolve my idea, an executable plan. Sometimes though, I just end up bumping my head — starting, painting over, starting, painting over, until after a few layers I finally put down something that I can finish. Although this way of operating is often frustrating, it’s still what comes most naturally.
where do you draw inspiration for your work?
Inspiration is pretty mysterious, but for me I think it usually comes from brain and soul excitement generated through learning. I read a lot of non-fiction and often listen to/watch nerdy stuff. I enjoy studying mythology, Ancient Egypt, cycles, astrology, the natural world, and mystery. Recently, I’ve become interested in the incredible depth of ancient knowledge. I’ve been questioning our modern-day myth of progress and “his-story” in general.
do you listen to music while you work? what are some of your favorite bands?
I listen to music probably half the time while I’m working. Other times I listen to someone talking (books on tape, lectures and radio interviews), and sometimes I like to have movies and documentaries playing in the background. My all-time favorite bands: The Books, Neil Young, Nina Simone, Ani Difranco, American Analog Set, Broken Social Scene, Four Tet, John Frusciante, Radiohead, Hum, Bjork, Outkast, The Smashing Pumpkins, Lately: Das Racist, Strategy, Chessie, Memory Tapes, Beach House, The Cinematic Orchestra, Lil Wayne, Gang Gang Dance, Bonobo, Songs of Green Pheasant, Mice Parade, Odawas, Underworld, Yeasayer…
in a dream
how did you get involved with WAFA?
I ran across their work online and it just knocked me out. Not only was the collaborative and individual work incredibly strong, but the mission/vision felt sincere and unique. Eventually I got up the nerve to get in touch, asked if they were accepting new members, and went through the application process. I’ve been a member of WAFA for just over a year now, and being a part of their community has definitely enriched my life and experience of being an artist.
if you weren’t an artist, what would you do?
Ohhhh, fun question. I’d study symbolism, archaeology, astronomy/cosmology, archaeoastronomy, alchemy, comparative mythology, non-traditional Egyptology, astrology, alternative his-story, etymology, quantum physics, extra dimensions, parallel universes, calendars, the zodiac, precession of the equinoxes, and unsolved mysteries in general.
if you could go anywhere in the world, free of cost, where would you go?
Egypt. Specifically, I want to take a Magical Egypt tour with John Anthony West. http://www.jawest.com/index.htm
if you could spend a day with anyone – dead or alive – who would it be?
Bill Hicks. http://www.billhicks.com/
the artist (above) and her studio (below)
thank you so much brandi!!