Because to make art is such a personal, healing and courageous act, I feel that my most important job as a mentor is to be support: to be that voice that says “yes, you can do this”. I become the undivided presence that believes in her, even when sometimes she does not. I am a stand for her. As that stand, I am witness to the commitment that this artist has made to herself and her art. Through our agreement, I embody that commitment – and she becomes accountable to me. Never loosing sight, however, that her primary commitment is to her art.
Understanding one’s own creative process is essential to making art, and that exploration and noticing is where we begin the journey. I always recommend two books: Trust the Process by Shawn McNiff; Art and Fear by Bayles and Orland
I work intuitively with a protégée, listening to what she needs, and learning when to push and when to let her unfold in her own time. The metaphor that I use when describing my mentoring process is that of two women walking a forest path. I have walked this path before, many times. I am familiar with the hills and valleys, where the path is almost obscured by undergrowth or a fallen tree. Where the path is narrow, she leads the way. Other times we walk side by side. Along the way, I will point out special plants, or the place where the heron nests. She, seeing with new eyes, will notice the ginger in bloom –or even strike a new path, and I follow her.
When giving feedback about her work to the protégée, it is important to me that sheunderstand that what I am saying is my knowledgeable opinion, and not absolute truth. That is why I encourage her to form/join a small group and seek out other feedback to her work — and of course to disagree.
Thirty years ago, when I was on the threshold of my journey into art making, I was mentored by two amazing WARM artists. This relationship was life changing and empowering. I also remember how exhilarating and terrifying it was to commit myself to art — to take myself seriously– to take my art seriously. It is with this memory and understanding that I approach mentoring. One belief that I have kept from my experience of being mentored is: All parts of yourself are welcome here. I believe that our art is intertwined with our lives, and so emotions from our daily lives influence and are reflected in our art and art making practice. Everything is thrown into the messy and joyous mix of art and life!
thoughts on my process and intention…
Creating mixed media figures has been a passion of mine for the last 25 years. Calling forth traditions from around the world, and the memory of my childhood fascination with dolls: my figures embody a kind of magical realism, as well as a presence of joy and healing.
Using materials inspired by these traditions; I sculpt the earth clay that becomes the head, hands, and feet. Once the face and extremities are fired, I ask the question: who do you want to be? Using various fabrics, I create a basic body: sewn and stuffed. Depending on “who they are” the bodies are still or standing, gesturing or dancing!
A further answer to the “being” lies in the embellishments that I add to the surface of the figure. This is where I further “mix the media” with a sense of “no rules”. My vocabulary of materials include found objects, natural materials, sewing notions, acrylic paint. The materials finally answer the question –for the materials become the metaphor for the meaning of my work.
In my newest work, I am using cigar boxes for bodies – exploring what is on the outside surface, opening the “portal” to discover what is hidden. The figure covered with tree branches celebrates our connection to nature. Rusted metal attached to a figure becomes a metaphor for aging. Adding acrylic paint gives color and highlights texture.
Brenna Busse, "Sacred Circle of Possibility"
Brenna Busse, "Out of the Box, Hanging in"
Brenna Busse, "Forgotten Roots"
Brenna Busse, "Protecting"