Continuing on with our centralized focus on one of our artists, this month's Artist Spotlight is dedicated to abstract artist, Brucie Holler.
Brucie has been with Camellia Art for about 12 years and is well known and loved by Lowcountry locals.
Abstract art is so interesting to me because it relies so much on the viewer's perspective and understanding. The subject or meaning of the piece is rarely found in recognizable forms, but rather in colors, lines, textures, etc. The artist may (or may not) give you a clue to their inspiration in the title. Luckily, because I like hints, Brucie is just descriptive enough when naming her pieces. She holds appreciation for all things beautiful and finds much of her inspiration in the world around her- nature, culture, literature, her current environment... With her muse in mind, she creates a piece conveying what she was experiencing- what she was feeling hearing, seeing... then she officially titles the piece. And that's where I start. I read her title: "Southern Squall", or "Murmurations" or "Big Sky" and my mind fills in the blanks. I'm looking at her lines and juxtaposing forms and colors and suddenly my brain is translating those elements into a moment. I can imagine the wind whipping up before the storm sets in, or I can hear the flock of birds swirling and wisping past, or I can see the snow capped mountains and their jagged, rocky surfaces. Everything about those moments and feelings is marked down.
So to me, Brucie's art is abstract- but only in the literal art definition sense...
I learned so much about Brucie and her process through this interview. It was so inspiring and made so much sense - tying up many loose ends I didn't even know where there. I'm sure there would be a ton more to learn, but I think this is a good start... Anyways I'll let you get to it:
What are your artistic beginnings?
“I started painting young…seven or eight. I had a summer where I couldn’t play outside so someone in my life gave me paint by number sets. And really, I haven’t stopped painting since then. There was a moment when I was in middle school where I had to choose either horses or painting and I chose painting. My mother put me in private lessons then and it became what I did. I was fortunate that I always knew what I was and wanted to be and had the support to follow that.”
Are there/ What are the specific themes that reoccur in your art and why?
“Yes! Two themes really in my work. One is the natural world. I am inspired by the landscape/seascape, color and feel of my environment. But my biggest inspiration is language. I have a list on my wall of lines of poetry that become paintings. I come across a word that is such an amazing word that it can become an entire body of work. Murmurations, for instance. That was a three year exploration of what murmurations were.”
Is there a connection between your message and your artistic process?
“To me, every body of work needs a specific approach. Some paintings ask for calm and others ask for energy. Some want to be collage and some want to be paint. Some want color and others more tonal. I approach a painting with no plan at all. It is a conversation and dialogue between me and what I am painting. The point of inspiration dictates how I work. Murmurations (again) required no color. It was all about line and the space between the line, the empty space, the feeling of wind and air. So, how I approached it was different than if I was inspired by tidal movements or storms gathering across the water.
If I have a specific message that moves across my art, it would be that in every painting, I want a contemplative space. Even if the piece is energetic, I am searching for that space. It is not a conscious searching, but very subconscious, but I notice it just the same.”
How would you describe your art to someone who’s never seen it?
“Hmmm. Thats funny. I’ve often said that my work should come with a manual.
I would say that I am a non-objective painter inspired by language and the natural world. Which is kind of dry, I know, but it’s hard describing your own work.”
What artists have you learned from?
“Richard Diebenkorn (all time favorite), Cy Twombly, Mark Rothko, Hyunmee Lee, Euan Uglow, [And] the early abstract expressionists…De Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell”
How has your art evolved?
“I think that because I have really committed to painting and because I work at it (and I truly mean work), I have just become a better painter. I have more confidence in my art, my brush stroke, my mark-making, my color choices. I have less angst around all of it…the production, the articulation, the showing. I have less angst in general, I have faith in the process, faith in my own creativity, faith in my skill set so I think it shows.”
What do you hope people get from your pieces when they experience them?
“There is this wonderful passage in Hermann Hesse’s book Steppenwolf where he talks about the artist and what happens to him/her when they create a beautiful painting. ‘Thus like a precious, fleeting foam over the sea of suffering arise these great works of art, in which a single individual lifts himself for an hour so high above his personal destiny that his happiness shines like a star and appears to all who see it as something eternal and as a happiness of their own.’ That’s what I want. I want the viewer to feel what I feel when I paint a good painting.”
What does your art mean to you?
“Everything. Besides being a parent, it is the biggest thing that I have ever done, ever committed to, ever diligently pursued. I think that creativity is something that every human has within him and it creates a necessary and much richer experience in life… That fact that I get to do this as my job and that it is also my hobby and passion is such a huge gift. The act of painting calms me; it centers me. When I have a good painting day, it is such a high.”
What is your favorite arts/ culture to consume?
“I love beauty. I love to be inspired. That could be anything really. I love to travel, I love good and beautiful food, I love the visual arts and the performing arts. I love New York City, Hamilton (The Broadway Musical), Mexican and Vietnamese food, street art (murals and graffiti), Mexico, street musicians, artists biographies, chef biographies, Anthony Bourdain, watching storms come in over the water, Cirque du Soliel, the list goes on and on.”
Thank you, Brucie- It was a pleasure!
Below is a small sampling of some of Brucie's pieces. More can be seen on her Artist Portfolio page.