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Studio Reflections with Angela Bryant

A view of Angela Bryant’s Studio. May 2013. (Photo courtesy of the artist.)

More time. It is something that so many of us could use. Angela Bryant spends a large amount of her minutes curating and teaching, so finding free moments for the studio always proves to be a challenge. When she does find time, what emerges are paintings that exude the same electric energy that is embedded in Angela’s personality. Using oils and fabrics with an astute understanding of color, composition and patterns, Angela’s work provides an alluringly experimental meeting ground for painting and fashion. To give a glimpse into the traditions and meditations that usually accompany her sessions, Angela reflected on a recent Thursday in her studio.


A view of Angela Bryant’s Studio. May 2013. (Photo courtesy of the artist.)

By the time I get to the studio, I’m already slightly exhausted. I have already made nine stops before landing at the studio but none of that matters, it’s Thursday, and a Thursday without the stooods is not a Thursday.

The smell of fresh oil paint immediately hits me as I unlock the door. The lock on our door has been broken several times by ComEd due to some sort of ongoing dispute with our property manger. I’m not sure of the details with the dispute, but knowing my property manager, I would readily side with ComEd.

The paint smell is coming from the last week’s session. Even though I have several projects started that need to be systematically completed, I opted to start a new painting last week just because the spirit moved. Painting is a fairly intense process for me. I am usually always “in the mood” for creating something, but when I’m “in the mood” to paint, painting has to happen.

The kind of painting I’m talking about is messy, loosely calculated before executing, and fairly loud music is chosen just as carefully as the brush that I select.

It’s been years since I’ve been in school but I still hear my undergrad painting professor’s voice urging me to start with a big brush. From time to time it’s important to tap into the “paint it up like an actor tapping into the mad caricature of what they think an artist does” role. Big strokes, messy, desperation. When I get home, my husband will attempt to remove the paint from my cheek and then eventually give up by telling me to check it out in the bathroom mirror.

I know I’m fetishi-zing the studio.

A view of Angela Bryant’s Studio. May 2013. (Photo courtesy of the artist.)

Maybe if my life schedule allowed me to get in here more than once a week then it wouldn’t be as “magical”… probably not though. For me, that’s the thing about painting, once you start doing it, even if you weren’t “in the mood” beforehand, the very act gets you there.

Anyways, that was last week. Today is different. Today I have twelve newly cut pieces of fabric (that I got on one of the nine stops I made before getting to the studio) along with a new pair of Fiskars. This time, these are going to last, I tell myself. I will never use these fabric scissors to cut paper out of desperation because I can’t find my crappy scissors. I also have graph paper that I’ll be using to map out a design proposal that will probably be translated into a mosaic tile pattern.

Pattern is something you will find on both on me and in my work. I used to get offended in grad school when people commented that what I was wearing matched my artwork. I thought it was a jab to say that my work was momentary like fashion trends are (and maybe they were saying that). Either way, now when someone points that out I say “thanks”. I feel that when my art reflects who I am, whether it happens literally or figuratively, it’s a compliment. I’m expressing some part of myself, whether it’s my visual aesthetic or my ideology, and sharing it with the world.

Angela Bryant is an artist, educator, Creative Director of the gallery at Design Cloud and Director of Dominican University’s O’Connor Art Gallery. In addition to her work at those galleries, she is the founder and director of Angela Bryant Gallery, a nomadic project that produces exhibitions of emerging artists in different spaces across Chicago. Recently she was a resident and recipient of the Archibald Motley Award at the Ragdale Foundation and a curator for Hatch Projects at Chicago Artists Coalition.  Angela’s work will be on view at RnD Gallery (318 W Grand. Avenue #308) on June 22nd alongside the work of Diana P. Gabriel.

This article is part of an ongoing series of studio reflections, which give a look into the thoughts and methods of several artists working in many different mediums. To read more studio reflections by other Chicago artists, click here.

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