Oftentimes, art is a reflection of the world around it, and the period it was made in. A famous example includes “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali, a surrealist work created before the eruption of the Second World War, which captured the feelings of dread and despair in a Europe overtaken by authoritarian regimes, soon to erupt into conflict.
Like many artists of the past, Okanagan artist Rose Braun is no different, and sought to capture the turbulent and changing nature of the world. With an ultimate focus on the current state of the United States, Rose captures the current discord and decline felt by many in America, as well as its past, present and future place in the global order.
What was the impetus behind this current body of work for “PAX AMERICANA?” Was there anything in particular that made you want to explore the topic of America, and its position on the Global Stage?
This current body of work evolved from a number of discussions with Gallerist Louis Elmer. A shared interest in world affairs ..balances of power, as well as revisionist history, decadence and decay, and many other questions, sparked the notion. This led to a collaboration. The support and willingness of the gallery to pursue these themes is noteworthy.
Out of the pieces in this new body of work, which do you think you relate to the most? Which piece or pieces do you see yourself and your life personally reflected in?
I am always invested in whatever I am working on at the time. Some images are more academic than others, the machines for instance. I am not greatly familiar with the workings of machinery, but the process of painting allows me to scrutinize the ‘subject’ and help form an understanding.
The images of children of course hold an entirely different connection for me. They allow me to reflect on my own experiences as a child and a parent.
The work “…+… Counting” is one that focuses on the epidemic of Mass Shootings that the United States is currently experiencing, with the work having why did you feel the need to touch upon this subject specifically?
School shootings have become all too common in the USA. In fact many do not even make the news anymore. One can not remain complacent.
The piece “Immigrants” depicts what appears to be a family photo, where the heads of the individuals have been replaced by Disney Characters? What ideas were you exploring, and message are you looking to convey to potential viewers?
I view the ‘Immigrants’ and their masks as representing somewhat of an immersion into a new culture, often experienced by those coming to a new society for the first time. Being foreign, navigating a different set of values and keeping part of oneself at the same time.
Nostalgia and reminiscing on the past is often a prevalent theme of your work, what draws you to paint and work under this context? Was your artistic practice always executed under this context?
In this current body of work, nostalgia factors heavily as a theme in this as much as the rest of my work. Sometimes the images will take on a different form, depending on what I want to express. I do, however, have a soft spot for certain time periods.
Francisco Goya and the interwar Dada artists are stated by you to be large influences upon your work, would there be any artists in particular that you cite to be influences on you, and your artistic practice?
I am drawn to painters such as Goya, Otto Dix and Dada, for example, due to their direct style , raw unflinching gaze, and courage to express their views . I appreciate artists, current and historical, who don’t ‘look away’. I look for “the juice.”
Having worked with steel for 20 years, what do you prefer about it over canvas or wood panels? What are some drawbacks you find regarding this?
Every material has its intrigue. I still work on canvas ,wood, paper , the occasional wall, and they all offer their own challenges. At the moment, metal still holds most of my attention. I do like a material that will take a lot of abuse, and they all do in their own way, but metal will take it up to a point and then just quit ..done ..that’s it —and spit it all back out at you. You gotta love its sense of humor.
Do you feel resolved in this current body of work on the theme of exploring America’s presence and culture in the modern age? If not, what would you like to explore? If so, where do you see your work heading next?
There are, of course still so many things to talk about, one feels as though it has only been touched upon. The State of the Union (of America) -home and abroad -foreign and domestic,- internal and external , to mention a few, are questions that concern us all. We need to keep questioning and exploring and pull our heads out.
October 20, 2023