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Artist Jan Brandt

Jan Brandt is an artist working in mixed-media, textiles, printmaking, and painting. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree both from Illinois State University in Normal, IL. Brandt is the owner of Jan Brandt Gallery in Normal, IL. Brandt’s work has been shown across the country, including New York City, San Francisco and Davis, CA, Chicago and surrounding communities, Indianapolis and Evansville, IN, Oberlin, OH, Boston, MA, as well as the Central Illinois communities of Peoria, Champaign-Urbana, Springfield, and Bloomington- Normal.

"The fiber installations and paintings included in the Botanica Imaginaria, Solstice/Equinox and the upcoming Magic Garden exhibitions have grown from artist Jan Brandt’s lifelong fascination with plant life. Brandt ‘s aim is to transform the gallery space with saturated colors and contrasting textures with the use of abstracted interpretations of botanical themes. She forms petals, vines, and leaves, oftentimes using thrifted and gifted materials. The abundantly bountiful sculptures and vines allow for a sense of surreal, childlike curiosity and wonder. Paintings of various sizes serve as specimens within this ecosystem, inviting closer observation. Their surfaces, marked with dimensional fabric paint, matte chalk paint, and glitter, reveal depth and form composed of layered line work. The adjacent colors are made to be mixed in the viewer’s eye, echoing the textural and colorful components of plant life. To develop this layered visual vocabulary, Brandt has drawn on a diverse history of floral motifs, including the carefully observed details in 18th century botanical drawings, the patterning of Jacobean tapestries, and the flat abstraction of Swedish and Japanese floral design."

Tell us a little about yourself ( you are from) and your background in the arts.

I am from Bloomington-Normal, IL. I have degrees in Environmental Design and Fine Arts, both from Illinois State University. I have curated exhibits of over 900 artists through Jan Brandt Gallery. I remember always wanting to draw and paint at a very young age. I went back to ISU to study Fine Arts in my late 40's, graduating 12 years ago. Since then, I have made it my goal to broadly exhibit my work in galleries and in print and online.

What kind of work are you currently making?

I weave back and forth between the art forms of fiber art, painting, and printmaking. I feel that working in different mediums helps inform my decisions and keeps my ideas and process fresh.

What is a day like in the studio for you?

I may have studio visits arranged and enjoy welcoming patrons into my studio gallery. I work on multiple paintings and fiber works concurrently, while some layers are drying, or I am stuck on decision making, I go on to the next project. It is a circular way of working that allows for creative problem solving.

What are you looking at right now and/or reading?

I enjoy staying abreast of fiber art through Surface Design Association and Fiber Art Now postings and their magazines. I follow many artists and forums on Instagram, including Create! magazine, sixty inches from center, Juxtapoz, Creative Quarterly, and more.

Yayoi Kusama is my hero! Nick Cave's "sound suits" are some of the coolest things I have ever seen. Hilma af Klint paintings send me to a new dimension. I also enjoy looking at centuries old botanical drawings for inspiration. Noticing the elements of flowers and plants in my garden helps me make the leap to creating my own botanical forms in painting and in fiber art.

Where can we find more of your work?

Instagram: @janbrandtgallery

Upcoming exhibit: Magic Garden at Open Space Gallery in Ottawa, IL August, 2023 Upcoming exhibit: Peoria Art Guild, Spring 2024.

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