Today we’d like to introduce you to Brooke Mullins Doherty.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I’ve always been making art for as long as I can remember, and I’m lucky enough to have been encouraged by my family and friends. I grew up in Oklahoma, and at the time I went to college, I was sure I wanted to be a philosopher and pursued a philosophy degree with the plan to get my doctorate. I had been taking art classes all along too, and right when I was about to graduate, it clicked for me that I actually wanted to be an artist rather than a philosopher. So, I spent two more years getting my BFA in studio art and moved to Massachusetts to get my MFA in sculpture at UMass Dartmouth. I never visited first, but I just always felt like New England would be a good fit for me and it was. I have loved it here and decided to stay, especially after I met my husband in my last year of graduate school.
Please tell us about your art.
I make large-scale sculptural installations with wire and fabric and often light, and I make very small paintings and prints. In all of my work, I am interested in bright color and biological references such as trees, coral, spiderwebs, and cellular imagery that remains abstract. With sculpture, I create environments that are larger than my body for the most part and provide an unexpected experience. I make wire frames and sew fabric around them, sometimes designed to hang on the wall and sometimes designed for the ceiling. I often put lights inside of my ceiling work. With my smaller two-dimensional work, I create what might be seen as a micro-environment that is more of a mental space. Often my prints are autobiographical, fueled by my day-to-day life and relationships with my children. Of course, these are what drives me to make art rather than what I expect others will take away. I want to provide a sense of pause and opportunity for daydreaming and free-association that is a break from regular life to viewers, and I also want to provide beauty. I want to allow viewers a space, both physical and mental, for reflection and connection.
Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
Be persistent and also be realistic and practical about available sources of income. Income for artists can be very unpredictable and vary widely from year to year. I am lucky in that I really love teaching and would want to teach art at least part-time even if I didn’t need to for the income. Teaching has allowed me to sustain my love and interest in art and share it with others, and it also allows me time between semesters to focus on my studio work full-time. I know it’s not for everyone though. No matter what you do in life, prioritizing how free time is spent to allow for studio time is important. I’ve structured projects to be manageable for myself at all times, through the busiest times of the academic year and also through the birth and infancies of my children. I don’t always get all of the studio time I want, but I do make sure to get some time each week no matter what. I think this persistence is important to sustaining a life and career as an artist–keep your foot in your studio door and don’t make excuses.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I have work permanently installed in a few public locations, such as a large-scale ceiling installation in the Naked Oyster in Hyannis. I also exhibit regularly around New England at a number of different galleries, museums, and other venues. My website, www.brookemullins.com, is the most comprehensive collection of my work and also contains information about my current and upcoming shows. People can support my work by attending my shows and events and buying artwork for their own homes and businesses, and I also create site-specific work on commission.
- Website: www.brookemullins.com
Brooke Mullins Doherty