Past Present & Future: The Art of Brittany Wittman McLaughlin

Past

For over a decade, I have kept my art hidden in the attic. The journey of an artist requires us to create our work. To share our stories. And to be open to sharing our the gift of our work with the world.

Healing Scroll
Linen, Metal Rods, Handstitching

When I was a little girl I discovered the gift of my creativity. From a very young age, I have been making crafts and creating art.  Fiber is my medium. We can think of medium in two ways: as a singular form of media such as the fiber or yarn itself used to make the art; or as using intuitive abilities to see the past, present, and future events by tuning into the spirit energy surrounding a person and their memory. I use weaving as my medium by both definitions; illustrating thoughts and experiences with complex constructions on my loom.

Where the Light Gets In
Monofilament, Linen and White Pine Needles
Where the Light Gets In, detail

It was in college when I claimed my power as a professional designer, earning my BS in Textile Design. My focus was weaving, both at the handloom and with industrial weaving machines. I worked in both industry and academia; notably for KnollTextiles, Woolrich, and as a Visiting Professor at my alma mater, Philadelphia University.

Seven Scrolls
Tea dyed linen, Brocade Inlays
Seven Scrolls, detail

During graduate school at the University of the Arts my discipline was Sculpture and my focus was on elevating my work from industry to art. I earned my MFA by creating work that focused on materiality and meaning and exhibited it through large-scale installations that engaged the viewer. I explored the concepts of content vs. context. My material selections referenced textile materials and processes, while the narrative addressed the marginalization and anonymity of women and textiles throughout art history.  And my art became a way to heal.

The University of The Arts
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Hamilton Hall
Reframe: Context/Content Installation
Reframe: Context/Content
Exterior View
Reframe: Context/Content
Interior View
Plaster cast frame fragments reoriented to create new context.
Reframe: Context/Content
Light through the Window Panes.
Silhouette: Tell Me a Story
Women Who Shaped History
by Henrietta Buckminster
Mediated Autobiography/Altered Book

In this work called Subtext, I created edited versions of a book written and published in 1966 by Henrietta Buckminster titled, Women Who Shaped History.

Installation: Women Who Shaped History
Silhouette: Tell Me a Story

The intention was to find a text that could be mediated: to express the ideas of a diary using the words in a historical account of notable women in the United States of America. It is an approach to gain wisdom and knowledge.

The book tells the story of six 19th and 20th-century women who were instrumental in attaining women’s rights. Borrowing language from this previously published text neutralizes it for a contemporary interpretation. The women illustrated in the text contributed to the education of women, the suffragist movement, the civil rights movement, and the advancement of women in the medical profession.

Women Who Shaped History, detail
Mediated Autobiography/Altered Book

UNIFYING CHARACTERISTICS

In this sculptural commentary using the book as the symbol of the importance of education, the identities Elizabeth Cady StantonElizabeth BlackwellPrudence CrandallHarriet TubmanMary Baker Eddy, and Dorothea Dix, are obscured and another, more common story, is revealed.

Installation: Women Who Shaped History
Digitally Printed Altered Book Page

This mediated text exposes layers of similarities of personality characteristics of women who have shaped history.

They used their lives in a useful, purposeful way.

The unifying characteristics: they lived in faith, had perseverance, tenacity, vision, and commitment to purpose. The impact of education is paramount in many of their pursuits and successes.

But each woman experienced her own pain, sorrow, struggle, insecurity, vulnerability, and marginalization. There is a scar, a flaw, an imperfection. There must be acceptance of this and the ability to sculpt around the scar. To plan it as it lies. Whatever the circumstance – use it for good purpose.

In my effort to distill the characteristics of these women, I selected lines from each page and masked them off with tape – strip by strip. The pages were then painted with chalkboard paint: reminiscent of the countless lessons learned in and out of the classroom. The transferring of knowledge and information empowers.

Installation: Women Who Shaped History
Digitally Printed Altered Book Page


The universality of the book form is a methodology and commentary about feminine experience, rather than my singular voice.

These statements transcend time and individuality as timeless text illustrating experiences and emotions of women. Although steeped in anonymity, autobiographical references are reconfigured in this poetry of text.

All art work means something beyond the material and speaks of its maker.


Cloth is important to us from cradle to grave, through tears, fears, and the joys of our years. It carries symbols and meaning and is expressive of my narrative as a woman. It is a catalyst for my creativity whether functional or sculptural.  I gravitate to fiber as a medium to reconcile my own feelings and heal from emotional wounds. My creativity is direct connection to spirit. The ritual of art making involves the purification of my mind, calling on the divine for inspiration.

Present

Tactile Notebook

My mission is to teach weaving as an art form and a way of healing. I inspire, educate, and empower women artists to cultivate their ideas with an openness to new creative processes and sense of self discovery through art making.

Family Tree

In both in person an online workshops, the course curriculum is designed to motivate, inspire, and challenge artists to focus on their creative weaving process by exploring a variety materials and structures.

My gift of creativity helps inspire, educate, and empower women artists around the globe to cultivate their creative ideas by working with their hands and expressing their hearts.  I grant them permission to speak with their creative voice and help the feel empowered to share their work with the world.

This mission matters because participation in the arts creates more complete human beings who are critical thinkers, who have curious minds, and who lead productive lives. My work in supporting and promoting artists impacts the world of contemporary art by exhibiting and promoting fiber as a medium of fine art expression. During our lifetime, fiber art has transformed from a craft medium to a form of conceptual artistic expression without question. It is time to showcase it as art.


Future

My mission is coming to fruition by creating an online art gallery to promote and encourage fiber artists so that they receive the recognition and praise for their work as a contemporary expression of fine art.

Call for Artists: The Common Thread Gallery

The inaugural exhibit, titled Transformation: Fiber as Medium, is rooted in the spirit of feminine energy and creation using traditional materials, structures, and textile processes that focuses on the narrative of the work and its relation to the theme Transformation: a thorough, dramatic or marked change in form, nature or appearance; a metamorphosis; a renewal.

The Common Thread Gallery

The Common Thread Gallery is seeking the best contemporary art and invites submissions that reflect a range of works in the medium of weaving and fiber art. 

The exhibited works will address the socio, political, and contemporary themes of contemporary art including identity, the body, time, memory, place, language, science, and spirituality. The art will provide content beyond the method of their making.  It will express the personal narrative of each artist and provoke the audience to engage with the work as art.


Answer the Call for Artists

The Common Thread Gallery is seeking the best contemporary art and invite submissions that reflect a range of works in the medium of weaving and fiber art.

Art helps to heal our world and addresses narratives that are important during our time. The purpose of my work is to communicate ideas – politically, spiritually, or philosophically; to create beauty; and to explore the nature of our perceptions and find common threads that bind us.

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