Artist Michaela Pilar Brown Visits Guilford
by Annie Lattimore
The artist, Michaela Pilar Brown’s project “Burying Seeds” is full of personal pieces based on the body and her idea of home. During her talk in the Guilford College Art Gallery on Thursday night, she spoke about identity, history, and race. Brown also spoke on her life and the state of our country during President Trump’s travel ban. After taking some time off of her art to become a caregiver and a historian, she decided to come back to the art scene because she felt that she needed to spark a conversation. A resonating question Brown asked herself and the audience was how we can change our country for the better, how can we make it feel like a home, and how could we maybe even achieve this through art. She openly spoke about her identity as a black middle aged woman and how her identity affected her art.
Brown’s history from childhood to adulthood and the history of the objects were used in her installments to create a deeper story of her family and her views on what home is to her- a recurring place that feels familiar and comfortable. Michaela Pilar Brown believes that art should be a conversation, or a discussion that makes a powerful impact. Using her own body and personal ideas to create her art invites vulnerability, discomfort, relatability, and strength. Personally I believe you need all of those feelings to create any kind of conversational art that others can relate to.
When the artist talk turned political Brown was asked how artists should be affected during such harsh times. I can’t exactly quote word for word what she said, but she did explain how most artists see it as a chance to make something great, but others felt art is overshadowed and irrelevant. Successfully I managed to quote Brown’s words, “Under pressure we make diamonds.” When she said that I was like “oh my gosh that’s so true” and wrote it down immediately. When people are under pressure, a spark lights up for them to create. For example, when there’s pressure for finals, college students pick up their study game to succeed. Pressure is their motivation to study. With Brown’s photography, installations, and objects, I felt that she was mentally under pressure to create such beautiful pieces. Pieces based on who she was, what home is to her, and how her family, her history, and today’s challenges affect her body. Under pressure, she created a relatable conversation that encourages people to see art as more than visually pleasing, but as a chance to create deeper conversations. Michaela Pilar Brown’s exhibit on identity, gender, and race will be open in the Guilford College Art Gallery until March 15th.
photos by Erin Kye