Andrew Brehm

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Artist Statement

I start projects with a prompt.  You could say I am a found-object artist in this way, I almost always have a piece of trash or a scrap of overheard conversation that I then build off of to create my work.  In this way I am able to take something common and steer it in the direction that suits my interests, which are typically toward the absurd.  My work has an underlying humor that results from crafting objects, videos, and performances that exist to entertain and challenge our idea of normal.

I was trained as a furniture maker and later went to college to study a somewhat obscure type of design called Studio Furniture.  This field shares many of the same formal and conceptual territory to that of sculpture but has an irrevocable tether to functionality. Much like architecture’s commitment to making structures that fit humans inside, Studio Furniture aims to disrupt the notion of what furniture can-be while presenting alternative solutions to the chair, table, desk, and lamp.  The concept of “usefulness” with regard to a made object permeates my work.  I transitioned from furniture making with Landman and the Thunderbird, a three day endurance performance in a vacant urban lot.  Prior to the performance I constructed a variety of mechanisms that functioned to mimic natural systems for providing food, shelter, and water to the space. In addition to these positive outcome-producing mechanisms that helped my survival, I also integrated devices designed to negatively impact my experience throughout the duration of the piece. Viewers of the piece could operate these devices and mechanisms– it was their decision when to feed me by launching food into the space or perhaps disrupt my habitat by turning on sprinkler systems, soaking me.

Viewer participation and activation appears in many of recent work. In Swiss Trails, participants entered very large papier-mâché cheese forms and pushed them around the room following a colored line on the floor that had been assigned to them.  Each person had no way of seeing what was ahead or behind them, just the simple instructions and a line to follow that was visible right underfoot.  Hiding the face or body of my participants is a strategy I often use to make people feel more comfortable and to reduce their body to a more simple form.  In Ratss, papier mache masks were activated by a group of untrained actors for a video. By wearing masks, the actors became human sculptures rather than human performers: the emphasis is on the activation of the sculptures.

I consider myself a storyteller; each of my projects is built around a narrative.  Hominine is an exhibition of altered store-bought rugs and carpets that take on qualities of animal pelts. At the center of the installation, a carved wooden sculpture depicting the disembodied heads of a Neanderthal couple is accompanied by a recorded dialogue between the two as they bicker in manner of a typical comedy sitcom, seemingly oblivious to their fraught situation.  Fast simple puns and jabs at each others’ ineptitudes and shortcomings all belong thematically to the Paleolithic period.  In another work, Mr. Lips, I enact each of five family members (husband, wife, two children and a cat) portrayed in a large cartoonish painting.  In each episode they experience minor dramas while trudging forward as a literal family unity.  I perform with this piece both live and in videos, moving between the mouth holes of each character to deliver the lines.  These sculptures reveal themselves slowly, which has led me to think of my sculptures as being ‘time-based’, revealing themselves durationally and as narratives.

 

CV

EDUCATION
2011
MFA: Sculpture + Extended Media, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.
2006
BFA: Studio Furniture, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania Kutztown, PA.
2005
Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, Buckinghamshire, England

SELECT EXHIBITIONS

2016
​Television – 99cent Plus Gallery, Brooklyn NY
EAF16- Socrates Sculpture Park- Queens, NY
Experie​ nces in Color: LIPS performance festival, Rutgers University, NY
Triangle Circle Square (s​olo) – Gallery 5, Richmond VA
Triangle Circl​e Square (solo) – Overnight Projects, Burlington VT
2015
Going Somewhere – 1708 Gallery, Richmond VA
2014
Ho​minine and Mr. Lips (solo)- Legion Arts , Cedar Rapids, IL.
Swiss Trails (solo) – The Belfry, Hornel NY
Hominine (solo) – Practice Gallery, Philadelphia PA
2013
Team (solo) -The Front Gallery, New Orleans LA
Ratss (solo)- Microcinema Bemis Center, Omaha NE
Atelier Takagi -NOHO Design Week, New York NY
2012
G​etting to Know the Window – Current Space, Baltimore MD.
Our Cult’s Classic – Pierogi Boiler, Brooklyn NY.
2011
Crescent Club (solo) – MFA Thesis Exhibition, Richmond VA.
The Wrong Miracle – Gallery NoMinimo, Guayaquil Ecuador
2010
In a Basement – St. Joseph’s Church, Brooklyn NY.
Coming Soon – Reference Gallery, Richmond VA.
Baltidelphia – My House Gallery, Philadelphia PA.
2009
Bright Path – Little Berlin, Philadelphia PA.
Summer Shorts – Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Morris Gallery, Philadelphia PA.
W​ ashington Art Association Collaborative Show, Washington Depot, CT.
Landman and the Thunderbird – Fleisher Ollman Gallery, Philadelphia PA (solo film screening).
2008
Natural Selections (self-curated group show of Philadelphia artists) – Eckhaus Gallery, – Kutztown PA.
A Beautiful Find: A Found Objects Exhibition – James Oliver Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.
Street Button – Fleisher Ollman Gallery, Philadelphia PA
Haus Werk – Paoli, PA

PRIZES & AWARDS
2014
Decentralization Grant: The Arts Council of the Southern Finger Lakes & The NYSCA
VIP Art Fair: Top Ten MFA Candidate (juried online exhibition)
2011
Joan Mitchell MFA Grant nominee
2009-11
Virginia Commonwealth University Graduate Teaching Scholarship

RESIDENCIES & FELLOWSHIPS
2016-17
Socrates Sculpture Park Fellowship
2014-16
Artist Fellowship: Pikes Falls Chamber Music Festival, Jamaica VT 2012 Bemis Center Fellowship, Omaha Nebraska