What They Hold, What They Carry:
Robert Benson, Brittany Britton, and Brian Tripp at Piante
Piante gallery will feature work by Robert Benson, Brittany Britton, and Brian Tripp. The trio of local, Native American artists will show a broad range of sculptural works and paintings, some of which are being exhibited for the first time.
Robert Benson's 2015 Piante exhibition centered on large, physically demanding, cut and carved wood sculptures. For this show, Benson plans to include a sculpture or two, but will focus on his watercolors. Many of the paintings function as what he calls "abstractions of place." "These are places that are personally important," Benson explained, "places that have a presence." More than visual representation, Benson strives to capture the experience of these locales. "I'm drawn to these places because I go fishing or hunt or maybe gather wood there, then suddenly, in my mental space, one of those places starts to loom, and I find myself wanting to paint with that in mind. I hold a place and I create with it. The result is an abstraction that, to me, has that place in it."
Brittany Britton has described her work as, "a means to explore, dissect and complicate various identities." She often considers contemporary concepts of gender and cultural identity, but there's also a current of nostalgia running through her work. "I'm translating family memories into things that mean something now and potentially in the future," Britton said. Her sculptural pieces often incorporate wrapping or covering. Typical Native craft materials like beads and dentalium are gilded and used to create necklaces echoing traditional forms. A ceremonial shawl is meticulously recreated using a metallic-looking emergency blanket. A transparent mask is emblazoned with three gold markings mirroring Native tattoo. "I enjoy making odd transformative objects for the body," said Britton. "I'm a contemporary artist, but I carry with me this knowledge of our craft traditions. It's something I draw on when I'm making art."
Brian Tripp's boldly colored woodpecker sculptures ascending the rotunda at The Morris Graves Museum of Art was one of the many highlights of the 2013 "River as Home" show. A woodpecker or two will likely make an appearance at Piante along with many more of Tripp's singular sculptures and paintings. Tripp continues to create three-dimensional figures from found materials (river stones, driftwood, broken road reflectors) based on cultural influences and on his own evolving mythologies. The result is an almost seamless dialog between culture, tradition, and art.