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Meet Jan Brandt

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jan Brandt.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I returned to college in my fifties to study Fine Arts. Drawing and painting had been my passion for years and I simply decided I needed to get better. My first degree was a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design and I worked as a licensed Interior Designer on both commercial and residential Design projects. My penchant for creating environments using Design and Art elements helped train my eye and inspire my imagination. Working with clients put me in the position of choosing artwork for projects and it became evident I was not comfortable with placing pieces on the wall just for the purpose of decoration. Mass-produced items seemed to suck the life out of the room I had helped create. I began to delve further into researching contemporary art, visiting galleries, attending artist’s talks, and hitting up museums whenever possible.

This increased interest in looking at original art helped me realize I wanted my own art making to evolve. It was a little scary to go back to school, but it turned out to be nothing less than life changing. I found my tribe among the professors, staff, and fellow students. I was like a sponge, asking a myriad of questions, and then pushed for more answers, as each unearthed another inquiry that flew forth from my brain.

After graduation, I opened an art studio and within a year, moved into a larger space and Jan Brandt Gallery came into existence. Over six years, over 950 artists have exhibited in group, solo, juried, invitational, and community shows.

Please tell us about your art.
I create using multiple media. I honestly feel that changing up process and material helps to further my understanding and imagination of other media. I graduated with a degree in Printmaking, and I credit that training for much of my style. The addition of layers is so important to me. Subsequent layers to a beginning art piece, whether it is a painting, print, or fiber piece can accentuate, push back, bring forward, add texture, create color activity-layering is a magical world for me where nothing is figured out completely beforehand, the finished piece is a reaction of all of the layers before the last one.

For the past few years, I have been working extensively with recycled fabrics, creating assemblages informed by my interest in scientific inquiry. Non-literal, biomorphic forms are hand cut and stitched into imagined macro forms of invented microscopic life. Complementary and vibrational colors suggest movement amongst this agglomerated forms that appear to be ready to bubble over and expand beyond the gallery space.

Recently, I was asked to provide paintings for an exhibit at The Argonne Gallery 201, part of The Argonne National Laboratory south of Chicago. I began a new series of work, “Conjured Formations” that would speak to the cellular inspiration of my fiber work but in a two dimensional format. I added quite a bit of linear and pointillistic texture to these paintings to create a relatable “bridge” between my 2-D and 3-D work.

I hope viewers are able to enter into my work, whether fiber or painting, and find themselves caught up in an imaginary world, one where certain forms or colors tickle a recognition from their own experience. This could be a memory of looking into their first microscope as a child, slides from Junior High Science class, medical or botanical illustrations from years ago, or their own research practices as scientists.

As an artist, how do you define success and what quality or characteristic do you feel is essential to success as an artist?
Working through doubt and fear, pushing through to using new media, following my instincts and imagination can be very scary. I feel over the last year I have been listening more to the voice of self trust and self discovery as opposed to worrying about what will sell or what other people will think. I am very happy to be reaching that creative space within myself. Being honest with what I am doing, being truthful to my own aesthetic without apology, is translating into what I believe, is some of my strongest work.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I am a member of Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, located in the Pilsen area, and have shown multiple times there. I am included in the “Degrees of Abstraction” exhibition at Argonne Gallery 201, located in The Argonne National laboratory. The show will run from the end of June through most of September. My work “Happy Contagion” has been in “The Toybox-Inspiration through Play” exhibition in The Illinois State Museum Gallery in Lockport and Springfield (curated by ISM Director John Lustig) and will be shown at North Central College in September (date to be determined) and Elmhurst College in March (date to be determined).

My artist website is https://www.janbrandtartist.com
My gallery website is https://www.janbrandtgallery.com
Facebook page: Jan Brandt Gallery, LLC
Instagram: @janbrandtgallery

My studio/gallery address:

Jan Brandt Gallery, LLC
1305 Morrissey Drive
Bloomington, IL 61701

Contact Info:

  • Address: Jan Brandt
  • Website: https://janbrandtgallery.com
  • Email: janbrandtgallery@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @janbrandtgallery
  • Facebook: Jan Brandt Gallery, LLC

Image Credit:
Portrait Credit-Victoria St. Martin
other images-Lucas Stiegman

4 Comments

  1. Wisecracker Studio

    July 4, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    Interesting read. Always learning new things about Jan Brandt. Congratulations!

  2. Karen Gyllin

    July 4, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    This article has given me a great deal of
    insight into Jan’s work and helped me to enjoy it more. I understand and appreciate her
    connection between science and art. I also
    have a science/art connection that motivates
    me in my painting.

  3. Nichole

    July 5, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Jan is such a diverse artist and a wonderful person. Jan not only contributes engaging – mesmerizing works of art but helps other artists to succeed in their own practice. I love seeing her art evolve as Jan is not afraid of taking on new challenges.

  4. Jeannie Walker Breitweiser: Studio B

    August 6, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Jan has truly evolved, these last two years especially! She has so many talents, and lives to give other artists the opportunity to show their work and their progress. She is a great encourager!
    Her latest paintings have grown from the work she has done with her soft sculpture pieces which are whimsical and intriguing! Her paintings are showing more depth and continuing into her next movement we are anxiously awaiting to see!

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