Nikki Brugnoli’s work will be on display in the exhibition Reckoning Space at The Harlan Gallery at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. The show runs from September 10th to October 8th.
[Obliterate and Rebuild]
These are the only ways of knowing an Other and Oneself.
I grew up in rural, post-industrial landscapes on the edges of Pittsburgh. In 2014, when the deepest roots of my life began to lift from the soil of this earth, I revisited the coke ovens and slate dumps in that depressed, yet pungent landscape, and I explored countless ways to examine and mine the nuances of those unremembered spaces.
As a youth, I don’t recall ever looking out to the contours of that landscape to find beauty though I often remember looking down.
When space collapsed, I discovered a distressed canvas-like structure of fractured glass, stones, and coal, broken into one million scattered pieces that I collected and kept hidden, like precious treasures for much of my early childhood.
I gathered them when I was alone, and delighted in my deep need for secrecy, solitude, and silence. Trespassing into abandoned and filthy cellars I scoured waste and decay, and embodied the familiar stench of mold and rot. Armed with long sticks and carving knives, I tore through summer foliage, creating lines for safe passage and imagined expedition. When I became conscious of being unsafe I left these familiar spaces behind as if my feet had never marked the ground; as if the scars on my knees had been left by some other surface; something purer, something softer, than a land stripped bare of kindness and memory.
This work that grows from the shape and reference of these sites intends to give form to the quiet, yet blaring mystery of youth and the uncertainty of the tumultuous present and undetermined future.
It is a tremendous collision of possibilities and impossibilities. The blurry density of saturated darkness and the eruption of light embedded into the silky skin of Mylar speak to the opposites that exist in us all. These are the shapes of sorrow and of loss, and they are mine alone to hold and to let go of.
An endless line cutting through me
A salve to cover the wound.
Nikki Brugnoli (1981) received her BFA from Seton Hill University (2004) and her MFA from The Ohio State University (2007). She serves as adjunct faculty at George Mason University and is the Assistant Graduate Programs Coordinator and Graduate Advisor in the School of Art as well as the Coordinator of the Art Lab at the Lorton Workhouse, Lorton, VA, Assistant Coordinator for the DC Cultural/Flashpoint/GMU MFA Fellowship Program, Washington DC and a Hamiltonian Mentor. Nikki was instrumental in forming the Foundations Education Curriculum at Ohio State University, which she worked on extensively from 2005-2007, alongside her graduate research. Nikki has also taught at the Northern Virginia Community College, and The Renaissance School in Charlottesville, VA.
In addition to her full time academic services at George Mason University, Nikki is Assistant to the Project Coordinator, Curriculum Coordinator, and Liaison to the Steering Committee for the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016 Project. Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016 is a book arts and cultural festival planned for January through March 2016, throughout the Washington, D.C. area. Exhibits, programs, and events will commemorate the 2007 bombing of Baghdad’s historic bookselling street, celebrating the free exchange of ideas and knowledge and standing in solidarity with the people of Iraq and everywhere that free expression is threatened. www.amsshdc2016.org
Nikki Brugnoli lives in Warrenton, VA,. She is married to Maker, Josh Whipkey and they have a four-year-old son, Finnegan.
Her work is included in many private collections across the United States, and is featured in national academic and public institutions.
The Featured Image by Nikki Brugnoli: “Stripped Bare,” 40X60, Mixed Media on Mylar, 2015
A thanks to our art editor, Sarah Irvin, for collaborating on this post.