The process of two artistic works

by Brie Burrell ’21 (she / she)

I created these two pieces as part of a short series for my drawing 101 class in the spring of 2020. The pandemic had hit earlier this semester, causing me to leave campus. I had a lot of emotions that I had trouble expressing. I felt that my outward expression of leaving campus without completing my first year did not properly represent what I was feeling on the inside. These two pieces are meant to embody this juxtaposition.

The first part of this series features a range of colors created with watercolors and colored pencils. Although the expression of the figure is contained and surrounded by “happy” colors, they are almost blurred or overwhelmed.

pt. 2 ″ 6.5’x13 ′ watercolor, graphite, ink, courtesy of Brie Burrell ’23

The second part of the series features a larger figure created with a variety of sporadic and continuous india ink marks. Inside the figure, ghostly figures created with graphite are caged.

These two pieces were created from places of uncertainty and sadness, two expressions with which I often find it difficult to cope. The first part of the series came out completely different from what I had expected, and there was a point where I considered giving up the play altogether. It wasn’t until I released the pressure on myself to make the room look a certain way and just expressed myself that I found a resolution. The process and the play itself bear witness to the juxtaposition I was experiencing at the time. The pressure I put on my pieces to look a certain way was a direct reflection of the pressure I felt that caused me to hide my emotions. Working to resolve my piece was essential in dealing with my emotions.

My relationship with the art that I and others create is constantly evolving. The pandemic, along with many of the issues surrounding police brutality and oppression, has triggered a period of growth and exploration in multiple dimensions of my life. I find myself wanting to create and share my art more often. I have learned that inviting others to view my pieces is a crucial part of the artistic process. Others often interpret my work in ways I never envisioned, or give me useful information on ways to solve certain aspects of my work. In the past, I have been very reserved and insecure when it comes to publicizing my work or asking others to collaborate. I am my worst critic, but I am happy that my own perception of my work is changing and my confidence is increasing.

From those pieces, I’ve partnered with Marquia Humphries ’22 and Davidson Athletics to design a shirt that promotes messages of responsibility and fairness here at Davidson. In the future, I hope to continue using art as a platform to encourage conversation and speak from my perspective as a woman of color in a predominantly white space.

Brie Burrell ’23 (she / she) is a major in prospective psychology and a minor in art studio from Ocala, Florida. She can be reached for comment at [email protected]


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