I would like to share my recent art and new insights with you. Lately, I have been drawing uniquely shaped, multiple face portraits and portraits on black and brown paper. I also have been exhibiting them. The uniquely shaped portrait on the bottom is on display at the Ashe Cultural Center until March 31st. Two of the portraits on black paper are currently on display at theNew Orleans Art Center until March 5th.
These portraits are the spontaneously styled portraits I have been doing since I was a child. My artist sister, Alma Bryan Powell, gives me the best art advice and she says, exposing these portraits helps to put all of my other art in context, including my iPad art and masks. This is because they are the most spontaneous. You may remember me calling them folksy women portraits. Alma said she doesn't believe they are folksy and after some thought I am now not calling them that.
As for new insight, while teaching, a teenage student said when you grow older, although you are not growing physically, you are growing mentally and in wisdom. That thought was inspiring.
Recent colored pencil portraits, both untitled, approximately 11"x11", copyrighted and created by Amy Bryan 2015, $100 each
I hope you enjoy Thanksgiving today. Last Sunday I visited a church and the preacher asked us to think of what we were thankful for. He emphasized the importance of being thankful.
I'm thankful that I have become a better middle school and high school teacher than I was last school year. I have more appreciation for teaching those grades than I did before. I understand more about how teens and pre-teens have different needs in the classroom environment than typical young adult college students.
Also, two weeks ago I visited my middle school art teacher's art exhibit opening. Here is a photo below of us standing in front of his recent work.
Above I have included two of my recent colored pencil portraits.
Amy Bryan's Exhibit at the New Orleans Healing Center's Second Story Gallery September 2015
Here are photos from my section of the three person show with Alma Bryan Powell and Myesha Francis I curated at the New Orleans Healing Center's Second Story Gallery in September. I showed prints and drawings from my Ghana series, especially focusing on the new drawings I completed this summer.
The eyes of the people in the photos from my 2009 trip to Ghana that I drew stood out to me. I've drawn all of these photos several times over the years. The woman on the right really wore a dress with an eye pattern all over it.
Yesterday August 29th in New Orleans many of us reflected on 10 years since Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005 devastated much of the Gulf Coast. I moved back to New Orleans in July 2006 after teaching at Tuskegee University in Alabama for four years. I wanted to help my family rebuild, since they lost their home and their city was in recovery mode. I was able to reflect on how so much of my experience in New Orleans since the storm has been affected by how people, places, and institutions were affected by Katrina.
The masks above were created in 2006 and 2007 in response to Hurricane Katrina. The image at the top was a banner using photocopies of the masks that was created this month for a memorial event yesterday. Unfortunately, it disintegrated before it could be displayed and, fortunately, I will put it together again.
Here is the story behind my masks, my art to share:
1st Post Katrina Masks #1, #2, and #3 were inspired by Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005 in my hometown, New Orleans, LA. They were created in 2006, incorporating collaged family photos on a baked polymer clay surface. Most of my family’s photos were lost in Katrina, since my family home was flooded in 8 feet of water. However, my mother rescued some damaged photos then digitally scanned them.
Post Katrina Masks #1, #2, and #3 include collages of inkjet printed images of rescued Hurricane Katrina photos that reflected my childhood memories. They all show remnants of the azaleas that grew in my family’s front yard. My family used to take pictures in front of them every Easter Sunday. Many times the azaleas, that only blossomed once a year, would blossom in time for Easter. We would take pictures on Easter in front of the bushes even if the azaleas were not out, but we considered ourselves especially blessed if they were. My father would then drive them to church in his comfortable Oldsmobile and later Cadillac. We would only ride in his car on Sundays and it was a special treat.
My mother cared a lot about taking family photos on Easter and at other important family events. She also cared a lot about the azaleas blooming. My mother told me when she first saw the house after the storm she was sad because the azalea bushes had died. They must have been symbolic to her of continuity, growth, and life.
2nd Post Katrina Masks were created at a residency I participated in at Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont in June 2007. These masks were also influenced by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the symbolism of the azaleas representing continuity, growth, and life. They included fabric, paper and metal symbols collaged on fired terracotta or white clay. They were more abstract than the first set of masks, not including any photos.
That was the inspiration for my Post Katrina Masks.
Also, we are having an exhibit that opens on Saturday, September 12th. The opening reception will be 6-9PM at the New Orleans Healing Center. It will be on display until October 3rd.
Left: Myesha Francis Agwe "Mercy" (detail), Middle: Amy Bryan "Man Looking" (detail), Right: Alma Bryan Powell "Baby Wonderland" (detail)
Until Next time,
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I would like to tell you about an upcoming group exhibit, the free children's art workshop I will be teaching at Community Book Center in New Orleans tomorrow, July 3rd, and my new art studio.
I look forward to participating in an upcoming group exhibit, Lagniappe: Imagining New Orleans in a Post-Katrina World. The exhibit opens on August 1st, 6-8 PM as part of the public city-wide event White Linen Night at Stella Jones Gallery in New Orleans. It is curated by Art Historian, Dr. Mora Beauchamp-Byrd. The exhibit is a response to the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Tomorrow, Friday July 3rd, I will be offering a free children's art workshop at Community Book Center's Home Fest. Children will do an activity to learn about the inspiring African American woman artist, Faith Ringgold. I will also display some of my iPad created prints.
Untitled (detail), graphite, 5/2015, copyrighted by the artist, Amy Bryan
My summer teaching break started Saturday and my birthday is tomorrow. I plan to eat a meal with family that reminds me of good times in New Orleans: boiled seafood (shrimp, crabs, and crawfish) along with corn and hot potatoes.
Here are two small drawings I completed recently. As usual, these portraits are from my subconscious mind and your comments help me to understand them better. The first portrait below is of a woman with circling rays of light behind her. The second drawing started out as gender ambiguous and now is a man.
My Upcoming Exhibits
I plan to participate in two upcoming exhibits at the New Orleans Healing Center with the Second Story Co-op Gallery on 2372 St. Claude Ave. in New Orleans, a group show and solo show. If you will be in New Orleans, please save the dates:
June 13-August 1, 2015, Paper Trails(Group Show) Opening: June 13th, 6-9pm
The first one is a works on paper group exhibit that opens on Saturday, June 13th. The reception is from 6-9pm that day and it closes on August 1st. Artists included will be Ron Bennett, Amy Bryan, Alma Bryan Powell, Julie Townsend, Belinda Tanno, Gina Laguna, Cynthia Ramirez, Karen Abboud, Rebecca Madura, Mark L, Amina Rimawi, and Zoe Threat.
September 12th-October, 2015 (Solo or Two-person Show)
Opening: September 12th, 6-9pm
I hope you have some fun plans for the summer. I am coming up with some.
Here are three of my latest "Folksy Ladies." The first one was drawn as an imaginary person and then I determined it looked like my colleague at work. I told her and she described the way she sees the portraits. She said:
"Your folksy women portraits...their eyes capture a feeling of emptiness or a longing for something.I feel that maybe there is something behind their eyes...Something that can only be seen through the artwork." ~ Kenetha Harrington
Amy Bryan 2015, "Folksy Women 2-2015," graphite, each is 7"x10"
Happy Spring! The spring equinox will be on March 20th and spring is my favorite season. Lately, I have been drawing and teaching.
I grew up drawing on napkins and scrap paper. Over the last couple of months I have been carrying around drawing pads, so that these daily drawings will be my art. My sisters have been telling me for years that they want me to do an exhibit with just my portraits (that I have been calling folksy ladies lately). Here are my recent drawings, my art to share!
As you may know, I teach middle and high school. The 6th graders are my favorite because they are willing to try doing creative projects and they are bright-eyed. I allow teaching to be an inspiration like some of my teachers did. Teaching makes me feel like I am making a contribution to my community and that's a positive feeling. Because I teach a lot, these drawings are art on the go.
Feel free to inquire about these drawings. My cousin now owns this one:
Amy Bryan, "Folksy Lady 11-30-14," colored pencils, 11"x14"
Some of my inspiration from Ghana, West Africa is continuing into my art in 2015.
The drawing above that I did last month is influenced by the dress pattern in the photo below. I took the photo on a bus ride from Accra, Ghana to Kumasi on my week long trip to Ghana in 2009. The two photos below show how I have explored the dress pattern over the past couple of years.
The pattern reminds me of the Adinkra symbols created by the Akan people in Ghana. The symbols are loved by many people because of their beauty. I also love the technique Adinkra cloth is made with. An Adinkra symbol design is carved into a calabash gourd and printed onto a cloth. It is closely related to woodcut relief printmaking.
I taught an Adinkra printing class to children at a Kwanzaa celebration at Ashe Cultural Center in New Orleans this week. Below is a photo of me setting up before the workshop.
This drawing was inspired by the art I saw at the New Orleans Museum of Art with my uncle when he came to New Orleans for Thanksgiving break. We looked at two exhibits. First we saw the Abstract Expressionist work of Joan Mitchell, Ed Clark, and Alma Thomas. Then we saw the Photorealism exhibit with paintings by Richard Estes, Chuck Close, etc. I wondered how I could appreciate both styles of art so much. Although my portrait is not Photorealist or Abstract Expressionist, I was influenced by the idea that the face could be a representational portrait and the background could be completely abstract. The woman did not need a body because her face was all I envisioned of her.