Eileen Braun's body of work is prolific. The Atlanta-based Artist works in various materials, including clay, rattan reed, encaustic wax, cotton string, and upcycled tissue paper from dressmaker patterns. She spends time studying and experimenting with her materials until she achieves mastery over them. A true student of her craft, her dedication is seen in her output. To celebrate the launch of Eileen's Galaxy and Current Vessel Series, we spoke with her about the evolution of her career, how she deals with creative ruts, and how she has incorporated Instagram into her practice.
You career has had quite an interesting trajectory, can you tell us about your evolution as an Artist?
My career as a maker has not been so very long. My creative path in the arts, well, that has been throughout my lifetime. My parents did not believe in “buying” children's toys. I even made my own glue from flour and water. Creativity was always strongly encouraged. We made our own toys, doll clothes, paper dolls, constructed wacky houses for our dolls, and built inventions from discards we were allowed to hoard. This explains my extensive studio supply of found objects and random materials. (My most current collection obsession is plastic bottle caps. ) It is a carefully sorted collection, every glance its way inspires me.
My mother wanted to be a printmaker. She shelved that career and instead was one of the few female draftsperson refining submarine drawings for the US Navy during WW2. My maternal Grandfather was a pattern-maker and fabricated intricately stitched women’s sample shoes from designer's drawings. My Maternal Grandmother could sew just about anything. Genetics, nurturing, and an appreciation of the arts have been lifelong.
My major in college was sculpture and art education. Over the years, I was fortunate to be able to apply my education in a variety of ways. I have taught art, as well as continuously been an artist mentor. I was the Executive Director of an Art Center and Manager/Buyer for a Museum gift shop.
My relocation to Atlanta Georgia in 2004 presented me with the opportunity to switch focus to follow my path as a maker. Porcelain clay was my chosen material for many years. The tactile properties of clay are inviting not only in process but continue to encourage touch after firing. I am mostly self-taught. Results of my work in clay have been exhibited extensively in museums, galleries, corporations, and private collectors. 2016 brought a change in materials: rattan reed (cane), encaustic wax, and found objects. This switch allowed me the new freedom of creating larger work.
Your creative output is impressive and nearly constant. How do you handle creative ruts or downtime?
I have been fortunate; creative ruts have never been my issue. My challenge is completing a current project while being drawn to a new idea. Everything inspires me. From the shadow cast by trees on the pavement on my morning walks to the sound of music. I always have a sketchbook & pencil available. My extensive personal library of sketchbooks comes in handy. I can open one from any year and find a worthy project.
Downtimes, yes. Those are frustrating. I am currently dealing with recovery from hand surgery on my dominant right hand. It has been 12 weeks since I've been able to work or even sketch. I have spent the time organizing my studio space and backlog of paperwork. My least favorite tasks.
Instagram has undoubtedly changed the art industry for artist as well as consumers. How have you introduced the social media platform into your practice?
The Covid-19 shutdown drew me into Instagram, reluctantly. Now I am an avid follower. This is how Lauren Sands spotted my work. Lauren and I had long conversations about my work. I deeply respect her interest in nurturing both the artist and the work. I have made friends all over the world through Instagram. I have been interviewed by international journalists, been spotted and reposted by “influencers”, and traded techniques with artists in Japan, Australia, Italy, and Finland just to name a few countries. That being said, I have no interest in selling my work directly. I appreciate the studied curation of an online repository or brick-and-mortar gallery to represent my work. They have spent extensive time and energy sifting through the huge quantity of available art to present a cultivated, refined, and well-executed showcase.