Artist Spotlight: Heidi Brandow

 

 

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Heidi Brandow, Margins, mixed media on panel, 18 x 24 in

 

“I knew from an early age that our native identity is so rich that we shouldn’t just hold it to a specific ceremony or spiritual practice,” Heidi Brandow said during a studio visit in 2016. “In my eyes, art is a tool that helps mark history, time, place and memory. Who’s to say pop culture are not equally as important as star sticks?”

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Brandow’s works often feature whimsical monsters and characters against vividly colorful backdrops and paper collages she collects on her international travels.

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Brandow was recently awarded the third Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists.

“As an artist with an active arts practice, a full-time commitment to the Institute of American Indian Arts, and a family,” says Heidi. “I am grateful for Ucross’ support in granting me the time, space, and resources to enhance my craft and create in such a beautiful setting.”

 

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Low Tide, mixed media painting, 5.5 x 5.5 x 1.5 in

 

To learn more about Heidi, please inquire or call us at (505) 216-1256.

Click here to view more works by Heidi Brandow in our collection.

Scroll below to read excerpts from our 2016 studio interview.

 

Do the monsters have names, or story lines? 

For me personally, they don’t have names, and there’s no story behind any of them. I try not to put too much of my own self into them. I don’t want to over personalize it. These are a nice outlet for me to create work that is lighthearted, that is easy. It’s very fluid. I feel like when people see it, they get it immediately. Whether you like it or you don’t like it, it’s a visceral thing. It’s not too theory-based.

I want my work to reach everyone. I don’t come from a community or people that are heavy academicians. In fact, I would argue that the art world has largely blocked out people of color from participating in art to a large extent.

On the other hand, I think a lot of the work I do is a little heavier. This is a nice outlet, where I can just make work that is more lighthearted and fun.

 

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Floating, mixed-media on panel, 5 x 5 x 3 in

 

How does your own cultural heritage figure into your work? 

I never entered the art scene on the basis of promoting myself or my work as Native art. Not because I was shying away from it, but because my idea of Native art was a lot of very cultural referenced work, such as very specific tribal motifs and designs. The stuff that I was doing wasn’t like that. I never felt weird about it, because I always felt like my Native identity is already in this work, whether or not there’s symbols or direct references to cultural place. The simple fact that I’m Native and that this is the work that I’m making, there’s no way of denying my heritage and my experience, or saying that it’s not implicitly in the work. I don’t believe it has to have direct references to culture and place.

Culturally Native people are so diverse and our experience is so diverse. If you look at someone like myself, being Native Hawaiian and Navajo or Dinè, they’re two entirely different cultures. They’re both Native, but it’s ocean and desert people. That’s only the first difference, right? Of course we have a lot of similar cultural values, but it’s like night and day in a lot of ways.

 

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Fences (diptych) mixed media painting, 5.5 x 11 x 1.5 in

 

Do the monsters have names, or story lines? 

For me personally, they don’t have names, and there’s no story behind any of them. I try not to put too much of my own self into them. I don’t want to over personalize it. These are a nice outlet for me to create work that is lighthearted, that is easy. It’s very fluid. I feel like when people see it, they get it immediately. Whether you like it or you don’t like it, it’s a visceral thing. It’s not too theory-based.

I want my work to reach everyone. I don’t come from a community or people that are heavy academicians. In fact, I would argue that the art world has largely blocked out people of color from participating in art to a large extent.

On the other hand, I think a lot of the work I do is a little heavier. This is a nice outlet, where I can just make work that is more lighthearted and fun.

 

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Altin, mixed-media, 5.5 x 12 x 1 in