'Back to the basics' - Albuquerque Journal

‘Back to the basics’

Right now is a time of transition for Heidi Brandow.

In Santa Fe artist Heidi Brandow’s new show “Departures,” she’s been creating images, like this one of packages of bologna, that she says are reminiscent of her upbringing partly on the Navajo reservation. (Courtesy of Form & Concept)

The Santa Fe-based multimedia artist has had a busy year. She just wrapped up working and teaching at the Institute of American Indian Arts and was named one of THE Magazine’s 12 New Mexico Artists to Know back in January. Earlier this summer, she also spent a month working with arts organizations in Turkey and participated in the UCross Foundation fellowship for Native artists in Wyoming.

Later this fall, Brandow is going to be making a move to Boston, where she will be working on a master’s program at the Harvard School of Design.

In the midst of preparing for this major change of scene, Brandow said she’s also been taking time to focus on realigning herself creatively. The result, she said, is a new body of work, aimed at paring things down and getting “back to the basics.”

The new series of as many as 18 works, which Brandow titled “Departures,” will be on display at form & concept gallery starting Friday. It will stay up until October.

“Because why not” by Heidi Brandow. (Courtesy of Form & Concept)

“In a way, it’s a departure from what I’ve been doing, but also it’s literally a departure,” said Brandow. “Part of my process in creating the work even is preparing myself to depart mentally from my home.”

She described the new works as a “second cousin” to her well-known series of monsters that she paints onto mixed-media wooden panels. The new pieces use the same bright color schemes and illustrative pattern work, but her new subject matter deviates from the playful critters of the past.

Most of Brandow’s new series features images of bones and skulls. She wanted to get back to the “core essence” of her art – she felt her work had started to become too chaotic – and said she feels the bones’ imagery symbolizes that change in direction.

It’s also something that had been on her mind since her residency in Wyoming earlier this summer, where amid the vast landscape, she saw animal bones while out on walks.

“Dream Chorus” by Heidi Brandow. The local artist is well-known for her ongoing series of monster-like images. (Courtesy of Form & Concept)

“They do still follow that cartoony aesthetic, very colorful palette that you’re used to with Heidi Brandow’s work,” form & concept gallery director Jordan Eddy said of the “Departures” pieces. “And yet, it’s a leap in terms of subject matter, and it’s something that a lot of people will relate to. Bones are this stripping back, this sort of slimming down into the essence of an idea.”

The new series also features acrylic pattern work adhered onto the wooden panels, representing memories from Brandow’s childhood. The artist, who has Native Hawaiian and Diné roots, lived in both Hawaii and the Navajo Nation while growing up. The patterns were largely inspired by her time on the reservation and include depictions of convenience stores – the region did not have many grocery stores – and pixelated images of her family. She also created patterns inspired by packages of bologna, which she explained as reminding her of her family’s affinity for road trips and the lunches her mom made for them.

In that sense, she said this body of work feels more connected to her personal experiences and the memories that inform who she is today. “Everything is always personal on some level,” she said.

Images of her upbringing and personal life are not something she often delves into. “But for some reason it just felt right,” she said. “It felt where I needed to be.”

She credited a recent monthlong return trip to Turkey for an art conference and to work with local groups – she previously attended the Istanbul Technical University for industrial design and still visits regularly – with reenergizing her and reminding her of a feeling of going home.

“(It) allowed me to open myself up and reconnect with those things I hold really dear, those early memories,” she said.

Though the work is a departure, she explained that the new pieces elicit the same feeling for her as her monster series, which she’s continued to work on and develop over the past 15 years. She’s previously described the monsters, which are influenced by the Japanese art and aesthetics she was exposed to growing up in Hawaii, as an artistic release for her. It’s also a style that gives Brandow a lot of joy, she said, because of its ability to reach a widespread audience.

“I don’t come from a community where people have the privilege of accessing higher education or really fancy experiences, and so creating work like that is really important for me,” said Brandow. “It’s not to say these things are dumbed down at all, but I actually think it’s more tricky to create work that is not only visceral for a 68-year-old, but it’s also a visceral experience for a three-year-old. I don’t know if many people are able to accomplish that. (I try) to always keep in mind the audience and the people I want to create for, and that’s pretty much everybody, because I come from that community. These are my people.”

At Harvard, Brandow will be putting her focus on the intersection of art and social engagement. Her area of focus will be “Art, Design and the Public Domain,” looking specifically at how artists can work within Native and other disenfranchised communities.

“I have no expectation of what that’s going to look like,” she said of what she plans to do next. “But I’m really excited about it.”

Home » Entertainment » Arts » ‘Back to the basics’

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Home improvement show, first responder cook-off highlight Rio Rancho ...
The Rio Rancho Events Center is ... The Rio Rancho Events Center is hosting The Rio Rancho Home Improvement Marketplace Show from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, and from 10 ...
British artist Damien Hirst explores the way of bushido ...
Richard Levy Gallery is showing 'The ... Richard Levy Gallery is showing 'The Virtues' by Damien Hirst, an exhibition of eight new prints, Feb. 4 through March 18.
'House Gods' goes beyond materials and designs, and glimpses ...
Jim Kristofic spent five years researching ... Jim Kristofic spent five years researching and writing 'House Gods.' It is based on his interviews – and apprenticeships – ...
Filmmakers follow local ensemble Baracutanga as they travel to ...
The filmmakers will join the band ... The filmmakers will join the band in its journey back home to Bolivia and capture the trip in a feature-length documentary to share with ...
'La Cartonería Mexicana' celebrates more than 100 colorful pâpier ...
Santa Fe's Museum of International Folk ... Santa Fe's Museum of International Folk Art is showing 'La Cartonería Mexicana' through Nov. 3, 2024
Folk duo to deliver their blend of tales and ...
The folk duo Johanna Hongell-Darsee and ... The folk duo Johanna Hongell-Darsee and Scott Darsee will perform their blend of early traditional Scandinavian/Celtic ballads and tales at Santa Fe's First Presbyterian ...
Opera Southwest brings Rossini's comedic 'Le comte Ory' to ...
Opera Southwest will perform the composer's ... Opera Southwest will perform the composer's last comedy, 'Le comte Ory,' for three shows in February at the National Hispanic Cultural Center's Albuquerque Journal ...
Hip-hop artist Khalisol is just getting started after recent ...
New Mexico-based rapper continues to build ... New Mexico-based rapper continues to build brand, hopes to expand Southwest's footprint in music
Resist pruning roses now or they might suffer later
The kindest thing you can do ... The kindest thing you can do for roses right now will be to offer them water.