Brie McCauley:
The World's Worst BSer

By Hannah Carnes

October 10, 2017

On one of her tabletops lays a notebook. It appears to have taken a trip through the artist’s most inner thoughts and critiques on herself and her work. It’s a bit tattered and torn--pages have been marked and unmarked, and marked again, but it looks insightful and loved, like a favorite book that you keep going back to read. Such notebook diaries, although they come in different forms, always seem to be the same. They contain the many aspects of an inner life that are often too difficult to share out loud, or just seem to be the most sincere when written down. Subjects like spirituality, worldly connections, work musings, self-reflection, and confusion are discussed within, and used out there, in the real world, to inspire and drive the individual for further exploration.

For Brie McCauley, this is where the creative process starts. Along with looking at the color-aid papers and tiny makeshift tubes of mixed paints that scatter her studio space, she begins her process by reflecting on what she knows and what she wants to learn (exactly what you would expect from a psychology major turned artist). Brie explained to me that although we, as humans, tend to think of ourselves as superior creatures, she sees us differently. Not at the top of the universe but a part it. She uses color to elaborate on this idea. “The ways our eyes react to the way of the world makes us in it, rather than above it."

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Brie strings together connections between humans and the universe through color, but also in a more literal sense, through embroidery. Brie uses embroidery as a way to play with light and colors, and it also makes her work somewhat autobiographical. She learned the craft at a young age, telling me that “during the Christmas season, my mom would sometimes take me to the dollar store to let me pick out gifts. It was a cheap way for me to participate in gift giving. She taught me to embroider and I would do so on small pieces of fabric and give them as gifts to my grandparents. It was a way to make me feel like an adult.”

Like a diary, her artwork taps into personal beliefs, origins, and histories. Brie reveals that she loves looking through old family photos. Much like something that is hand-made, these old pictures give personal insight about the way a person lives. “You can learn a lot from a person by looking through their old family photos. You learn about how they grew up, in what environment, and in what type of family.”

Although on the surface, her studio and practice seem to be cohesive, she admits that she recently experienced a crisis of sorts. Brie points to a past piece and tells me that she is now in a period of re-examining and questioning. The painting she draws my attention to was created during a time of freedom. Without a care in the world, this particular work was created by finger painting. The work is a departure from the others that adorn the studio. That is, rather carefully planned pieces laid out in sections and painted with a clear intention. I found it brave that she shared her uncertainty with me and her ambition to find a way to combine the carefully calculated with something that she made with little thought but rather “just like a kid--painting to paint.”