Artist tries to capture the beauty of imperfection
BLACKSBURG — Artist Franchell Mack Brown’s self-described “excitement” for fabrics and jewelry jumps off the walls of the Art Pannonia gallery in downtown Blacksburg.
Yarns and pearls intertwined with ropes and gemstones adorn bright, stretched fabrics.
Brown’s latest collection of work titled “Perfect Imperfections,” captures the fun personality and creative talent of the Radford artist and the “beauty in imperfection,” Brown said.
Visually inspired by unusual underwater creatures, the collection is emotionally inspired by “the power of individual spirit or soul,” Brown said.
“We are more than flesh,” Brown said.” “We are a spirit. We all have a soul. Some will learn this. Some never do.”
The exhibit tells the tale of a creature who eventually makes this discovery – a mermaid. This mermaid in particular gives up her tail for human legs. Years later, she begins to feel something inside her, a nudge, Brown explained. She eventually remembers she was once a mermaid and is inspired to create art work that reminded her of the creatures she swam with in the sea.
Her discovery is a metaphor for “where we came from,” Brown said.
For Brown, her journey as an artist began in Washington D.C. She grew up there amongst her “creatively-gifted family,” eventually studying at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Georgetown, where her affinity for textiles and clothing construction was exposed. After graduating, she started experimenting with jewelry, specifically a pair of earrings she created using a pair of her father’s needle nose pliers and her collection of antique beads. Also a self-taught seamstress, she studied fashion and fine art at the University of the District of Columbia, participating in a costuming apprenticeship, followed by more education in New York.
It wasn’t until 2004 that she started merging her jewelry technique and fabric elements into her work, pushing the boundaries of what she was capable of as an artist.
Brown is pushing those boundaries even farther in her latest collection with large, three-dimensional pieces she creates using a new crochet technique. These elements are represented in many of her works, including “Soul Revival,” a beautiful three-dimensional canvas where she showcases her love of pearls – her signature – strung among rope and other unique elements.
Brown said she struggled with this piece, as she was going through some difficult situations in her life at the time. But, she eventually pushed through them, and “Soul Revival” will now sit prominently in the window of Art Pannonia, a reminder of Brown’s triumph.
“This piece reminds me, ‘I’m still perfect. I had to fight through what I was doing. Just keep going.’” Brown said.
Brown also creates humorous faces, stitching heavy yarn on batik background. Various buttons and jewelry pieces complete the designs.
“Those figurative abstract creatures smile, scare or wink at you, which can charm you and make you laugh,” wrote Art Pannonia owner Judy Garbera in a news release.
Garbera described Brown as a “creative powerhouse” and “a vibrant addition to the New River community art scene.”
Most recently, Brown won the “Best of Show” award at the Giles Art Council’s Art on the Lawn event in September.
Brown’s collection also features dissect prints and a few jewelry pieces.
A meet-the-artist reception will be held for Brown Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Art Pannonia, where she will invite visitors to write on river rocks to remain on display in the gallery.
“Perfect Imperfections” will remain on exhibit through Dec. 4.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1679
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