ARTIST STATEMENT: 2017
My work is a forged synthesis of life experiences and playful inquiry, visual and scientific research with poetic metaphor. I make sculpture and functional objects, primarily from cast or fabricated metal hardware and found objects. Most often images and forms are discovered in the physical act of making: bending, building, connecting, stacking and welding. While the motions feel unscripted and spontaneous, upon reflection seem guided by memory; vivid experiences as a school-age child articulating a canine skeleton or assembling balsa-wood airplanes; in adulthood employed as a nurse, binding wounds or applying pulleys and weights to broken limbs. Within this inner world of invention: surreal, mechanistic bodies or cosmic catastrophe, is the conduit of connection with the viewers’ own imagination, who can, if a handle is attached, initiate the movement and meaning of the work. The pieces captivate and energize space yet remain ambiguous. Recognition is contingent and uncertain, but through visual quotation, discovery, and delight-in-making comes a sense of awe, of “being” in the world.
Breon grew up in Detroit, Michigan during its post-war heyday but mostly its declining years. One of her most vivid memories was a visit to a Ford steel manufacturing plant on the Rouge River. From a catwalk high above the factory floor, rivers of molten metal were transformed into miles of steel plate, plate that would become part of the engines of prosperity for a nation. Her father, painter and Professor of Art and WWII veteran, Peter J. Gilleran, was the first in his family to attend college. She attended Cass Technical High School as an “Art and Science” major, a fully integrated school that offered technical and college prep courses. Shortly after leaving Detroit for California, the city was irreparably altered by the infamous “Detroit Riots.”
In the midst of confusing times, of rapid changes in cultural norms, gender and racial expectations, and political platforms, she moved to San Francisco. Literally every aspect of modern life was undergoing massive transformation. In order to pay for college art courses and to cope with the chaos of her young adulthood, she enrolled in nursing school and obtained a nursing degree from Harbor College in San Pedro, California in 1975. The hard won stability of steady professional work allowed her to pursue her interest in art. In 1977 she met her future husband and moved to Baltimore where she earned a BFA in painting from Maryland Institute College of Art 1981. After raising two children she returned to academic studies to obtain an MFA in sculpture from University of Maryland College Park, 2002. Here she learned to mine her past experiences and memories, launching a journey of self-discovery and revelation as an artist in full, armed with new techniques with which to articulate her conflicted world. Two bodies of work: “Fantasy of Ability”, and “Hippocrates Promise” were heavily influenced by her experiences as a nurse, as are a recent series of polymer prints.
In 2006 she was a semi-finalist for the Trawick Prize, sponsored by the Bethesda Arts and Promotion, and the Sondheim Prize in Baltimore Md. Major exhibitions include Beim Handelsmuseum, Bremen, Germany, the International Sculpture Center in Hamilton NJ, Loveland Museum in Loveland, CO, Adkins Arboretum and the Evergreen Museum in Baltimore. Her work has been featured most recently in Striking Women: Mild as Steel, by Latifa Sayadi, 2013, published internationally, as well as American Craft Magazine, Sculpture Magazine, The Anvils Ring, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Magazine, and Bmoreart.blogspot.com. Curatorial projects include Go West, 2011 and more recently was invited to curate “A Cause for Optimism/ Centers for Creative Energy” an exhibition of prints from 7 regional academic institutions, York Arts, York Pa, 2014. Her most recent solo exhibition titled “SKEPSIS” was seen at the Rice Gallery, McDaniel College, 2015.
and Fairlee Forge, Chestertown MD
Photo credit above: Peter C. Gilleran