The Wonderful Work of Eileen Braun

A couple of weeks ago we had an amazing studio visit with mixed media sculptor Eileen Braun and were fascinated by her transition in materials - from ceramics to rattan - in the creation of her extraordinary, otherworldly vessels.

Eileen Braun , Smoke , 2017, rattan reed, wax, pigment and string

Eileen Braun, Smoke, 2017, rattan reed, wax, pigment and string

We are sharing here, her description of the work and a glimpse at what she has been working on.

"In 2016, I put my clay work on hold and sought a new media less demanding of material constraints. After a lot of experimentation, I found it in encaustic wax and rattan weed. As I make the work, the forms grow increasingly more complex. Their sizes range from 3 - 7 feet high and the deep shadows (not easily shown in images), provide a completely different personal experience. The work is deceivingly light, weighing in at a mere 2- 6 pounds.

My art mirrors natural forms with a biomorphic edge. Often the exact life cycle stage one is viewing is too complex to pin down.  Is it focused on seed, mature growth, or the desiccation of this system? I leave that up to the viewer.

Movement, texture and complexity of form are integral to the work as well.  My hope is that the viewer will be drawn in by the shape. While approaching, they will be intrigued by the ever-changing views because one can see both through and around the form simultaneously. The texture, shadow and line created by the materials add to the multidimensional cornucopia of delights.

Process: The sculptures are constructed from rattan reed, encaustic wax, cotton string, and glue. In some instances I have added dress-makers pattern tissue - influenced by my research of Japanese Akari lamps.  The rattan reed is left natural or occasionally pre-stained; soaked, manipulated and secured at all junctions with cotton string.  Additional elements to the sculpture are constructed or texturized with encaustic wax. The exoskeletons in many instances have been en-robed in wax, giving them the appearance of metalwork."

Enjoy the work and imagine the possibilities - tabletop installations, wall-hangings, ceiling installations...

Just exquisite!


APP Words with Friends - Galen Cheney

Galen Cheney is a Vermont-based artist that APP has felt a strong gravitation to lately. Cheney's work is so expressive and complex, yet seems to fit within a multitude of environments. We look forward to placing her work. In the meantime, a conversation...


APP: Galen, we just love your work and have to give a nod to the abstract expressionists that came before you. We are huge fans of Clyfford Still, Betty Parsons, Helen Frankenthaler and Cy Twombly. Want to tell us about some of your favs?

GC: Yes, the Abstract Expressionists are my painting heroes, generally.  Their art was their life and vice-versa.  My favorites among them are Joan Mitchell and DeKooning. They had a willingness — perhaps even a compulsion — to risk everything in a painting in order to create something meaningful, something new. I admire and aspire to that degree of artistic bravery.  Like you, I am also a big Twombly fan, as well as Guston and Diebenkorn.  And there are so many good painters working today: Mark Bradford is at the top of my list; I relate to the physicality of his work, his manipulation of non-traditional materials in the service of sublime beauty.  A few other contemporary favorites are Cecily Brown, Susan Rothenberg, Leonardo Drew, Julie Mehretu, Bill Jensen, and John Walker.  There are really too many to name.

APP: Agree completely. How do you see the changes in your life reflected in your work, particularly in where you have lived? I know you were born in LA and spent time in both MD and MA before settling in Vermont. In terms of street art, and referencing layered urban mark-making, where does this come from?

GC: I have spent a lot of time in Italy, and my first visits there when I was 14 and 15 had an enormous impact on me.  Yes, the art that I saw was part of it, particularly ancient frescoes in Pompeii and frescoes in Florence by Giotto and Masaccio, but just as affecting was the ancient history that suffused everything.  Witnessing noisy, contemporary life, including the day’s graffiti, within that ancient context affected me deeply. 

I am drawn to the enduring human need for visual self-expression.  Graffiti, ancient and contemporary, is a rich example of that.  These days I spend a lot of time in New York, and even its walls covered in layers of torn-off posters are a turn-on for me.  I often employ a similar kind of process in my own work — laying paint on, scraping it off; gluing paper or fabric on, pulling it off.  It’s not a planned technique in order to achieve a particular effect, rather it is just a process of working.  All those changes of direction in the making of a painting amount to rich and varied surfaces that are a record of the process.

APP: And in 2015 you were a fellow at the Da Wang Culture Highland in China. How lasting of an effect did the residency have on you? I know you took just a brush, ink and a marker, so it seems you were already open to the calligraphic and to using papers more common there. Can you give an example of something gleaned in Shenzhen that inspired a significant influence within your practice?

GC: My time in China continues to strongly inform my work. When I was there I began really focusing on collage as a method for making work.  I love scavenging, and I did that, gathering cast-off papers, hand-written notes, paper trash, basically.  I combined those with special Chinese papers and passages of ink brush paintings that I was working on.  I was energized by the process that I began there and I am continuing to work in that way today, though with painted textiles more often than paper. I love paper, but I am sensitive to the needs of framing paper pieces and wanted to explore more durable materials.

APP: Do you sew outside of using that technique as a manipulation in your work? Can you comment on any feminist concerns you have as an artist? What your work says or ignores? 

GC: No, I do not sew!  I didn’t grow up in a sewing household, though I recently inherited a friend’s old sewing machine and I am determined to learn the basics.  Hand-stitching is such a slow process, and though I like the look of it, the speed of it is at odds with my preferred way of working.  And then there’s the feminine association that seems to inevitably arise with stitching.  That said, more and more artists — both women and men — are working with thread in various ways and it feels like it is losing that strict association with the feminine or feminist. I am a feminist, though my work is not overtly about that.  I just try to make strong paintings.

APP: And you succeed. When did you make your series of "War Paintings?" Are you anticipating more work in this vein given the current turmoil in our world/our own country?

GC: The War Paintings were a response to the bombing of Beirut in 2006. Sadly, since then there have been and continue to be other wars that might have inspired that work.  My work is abstract, though I think it has everything to do with the world we are living in. It will never be a narrative of current events.  While it embodies the complexities of contemporary life, my work, if successful will rise above the noise.  This is the promise of art, to enrich us, engage us, to help us make sense of being human.

APP: You've really shown your work everywhere. Was there a particular place or group of people that you felt just "got" your work?

GC: Mostly it has been other painters that have most appreciated my work. Though now, after many years of tenacious and uncompromising painting, things are beginning to shift and my work is gaining broader recognition and appeal. I am always pushing myself to become a better painter with every painting I make. For me, that struggle, that process of discovery is the whole point.  And just maybe the stars are beginning to align.

APP: What is a typical winter day for you?

GC: Coffee first, followed by hauling wood for the wood stove and filling the bird-feeder.  If there is time, I’ll do a little reading (right now I am reading the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead), painting, hiking in the back woods with my dog, Viggo, answering emails, looking online for artist opportunities. There are always chores to do, but I get into my studio (which is in my house) just about every day.  I often paint at night, which comes early during winter in Vermont.


To learn more about Galen, please visit her website.


APP Words with Friends - Jody Fausett

We reached out to Jody Fausett a few weeks ago, asking to start a dialogue with him about his photography, his influences and his fascinating conglomeration of fashion industry styling and Southern nostalgia. The following is what he sent back in response. This vignette, an explanation of his process and an exploration of his work through its pop culture and family muses is everything.

We're obsessed. Enjoy.

Home Theatre by Jody Fausett

Fashion Editorial for Vanidad Magazine

Fashion Editorial for Vanidad Magazine

I never had a studio. When I lived in New York and a stylist got a box from Louis Vuitton for an editorial, we would shoot it in somebody’s apartment and order pizza. After the model is lit, nobody worries about those Home Depot cabinets. I love working off of a real space. Interior flaws and knick-knacks add to the model’s character in the story. Kitchen dominatrix: those floors will be spotless, I promise. I always watch the body, especially the fingers in a photo. You don’t want missing digits.

Growing up in a small town, all I wanted was to work in New York. When I got to New York, all I wanted was to return to Georgia and work on my personal projects. My grandparents’ house was my favorite studio – all that stuff that I could light with strobe. It made the familiar become surreal and created a different domestic tension that got shifted into my version of home theater. When my grandfather got sick, I felt that the one trip a year I could afford to come home was not working anymore. I returned to be nearby.

When he passed away, I continued taking pictures there. The airless silence could be too morose, so I pushed for portraits.  My favorite model over two decades has been my grandmother. This is how I connect.

When setting up, I work alone and quietly move the lights around to figure out what I feel works. Usually, she mows the grass, her favorite thing, while I work on the pose to find the light. That way I can walk her into the ready shot and not have her wait too long.

Test Shot // "Gloria" (1980), Directed by John Cassavetes // Five Shotguns, pigment print,
40" x 50"

Decades of guns line the wall next to the vanity.  This portrait came up out of the conversation of being a widow and knowing how to handle a weapon.  Understanding the weight of the gun, you can take care of yourself.  With no more big suppers to cook, she becomes svelte, decisive, and feminine.  

Test Shot // "Siren" (1975), Roxy Music outtake photographed by Graham Hughes // Photoshop screen grab

For a long time I shot this perennial series in the interior domestic spaces, but I decided to move outside and capture images without borders, images of infinity.  An oil leak that has altered the surface of my grandmother’s carport for over fifty years provided a welcome set for this narrative.  I have returned to this space many times for different ideas, but on this shot I saw waves crashing over the rocks.  The detached car door found in a shed would do.

From years of fashion work, it’s obvious for me now to retouch. It is not a documentary so much as part biography, part novella.

Occasionally, my grandmother is my assistant with great ideas on how she sees things. When we torched an old chair in storage, she helped with the fire. Later, she told me that the fire was unimpressive and we should try again the next day. We would find another chair in storage, she said. It feels good to catch furniture on fire. 

Test Shot // "Miss World" (1994), Hole video Directed by Sophie Muller // Outtake detail

The back bedroom has all the original furniture from when my mother was a teenager. Now it is the secondary vanity with all the perfumes and powders. I use seamless paper to change the reception of the interior, to highlight a specific piece of furniture with all that history (shoelaces used as a drawer-pull now). Even after I stood in to test the lighting on skin, the perfume powders took about 70 times to get the spray right.

Test Shot // The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard // Wet Driveway, pigment print, 24" x 36"

The final portrait I shot again with the driveway in the background when it was pouring rain.  I watched those magnolias tower and slowly cut off the sound of the highway to become something pastoral - this private garden, a place to reevaluate. I carefully directed her fingers in my plein-air studio, the carport off the highway.

- JF


Jody lives in Atlanta. For inquiries about his work please contact Jackson Fine Art.
If you want more, find Jody on Instagram.