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Art & Life with Cynthia Brannvall

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cynthia Brannvall.

Cynthia, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I am a native Californian of mixed racial heritage- African American, Swedish with some Native American. I grew up in West Hollywood and Sherman Oaks before moving to the Bay area. I would describe the path of my life as out of order. I was clinging to the 1960’s nostalgia my mother enveloped me in during the 1980’s when my friends and peers were steeped in the LA punk scene. I spent the better part of my young adult years working at a variety of jobs, hanging out at music festivals, the Renaissance Faire and the Oregon Country Faire. I had my beloved daughter Tara at age 23 and at 40 I decided to go to college.

At UC Berkeley I majored in subjects with no certain outcomes Art Practice and Art History. Since finishing a master’s degree in Art History at San Francisco State University, I have been teaching art history at various community colleges in the bay area.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am a mixed media conceptual artist. I am interested in the meaning of materials in relation to their history as resources, commodities, sites of labor and their history in artistic production.

I make a range of objects based in painting and sculpture and rooted in landscape and portraiture.
My work sometimes slips between categories. For example, my textile pieces look like paintings. They hang on the wall and evoke abstract landscapes and the figure but there isn’t any paint involved. I use the textiles in a painterly manor. They are a kind of low relief textile sculpture that is rendered as a painting. When working in ceramics, I mostly work with porcelain slip cast into molds. For me there is something satisfying about engaging with marginalized identities in a material associated with luxury and a material historically understood as part of the archeological record.

The heart of my practice has to do with exploring the capacity of art to create a visual language for identity in ways that acknowledge, respect and celebrate difference while also engaging with collective identity formation as it is tethered to history, culture, economies and geographies. The works are often abstract but full of connotations.

I hope that people to find their own stories in my work and that it creates an opening to see the complexities of identity as a vast field of possibility in finding common ground.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
This is a great question. I am a fan of the studio visit sometimes followed by a meal, tea, a walk, or some collaborative art making. With a studio visit you can have a focused conversation where you can get some clarity around what you are doing by having to articulate it. It’s also a great way to get constructive feedback. I often make progress on works in anticipation of having a studio visit or I get inspired by seeing other artists moving forward. In terms of scheduling, I find a studio visit to be more manageable and doable than collectives. I like to follow up the visit with tea, or a meal or art making or viewing. It can extend the conversation and its always so nice to explore art with artists.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
People can see my work on my website cynthiabrannvall.com. Currently I have work up as one of the anchor artists for Community Portraits at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz. Recent shows have included Dimensions at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, LA Arts Association’s Open Show: The Best in Emerging Art, and Migrations at Artworks Downtown in San Rafael.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Cynthia Brannvall, Tara Cox (image of me in front of Continents)

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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