January 5 - 29, 2023

Santa Fe-based artist b. brown considers herself an “emerging artist,” though she’s been creating for more than 30 years. 
“I come from a family of artists, so art and creativity is definitely part of my DNA,” brown says. She originally thought she wanted to be a dancer, and beyond playing with clay at camp when she was 10, she’d never worked with the medium until she took a ceramics class while studying at Goddard College in Vermont. “I quickly fell in love and diverted all of my time and attention to this clay studio,” she shares.
Her upcoming show at Hecho Gallery feels like a “cycle of completion.” Titled “A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky,” a reference to a draft speech in science fiction writer Octavia Butler’s archive, brown’s show explores Afro and Indigenous futurism and “the whole conundrum of being alive in this era,” she says.
In Butler’s speech, the quote answers a question she was asked frequently: Why science fiction? To which she replied, “Science fiction is a handful of earth, a handful of sky and everything around and between.” 

In brown’s show, the reference serves as a bridge between her medium and her inspiration. Her current body of work includes large clay vessels in earthen hues that carry recurring shapes and patterning that come together in a celestial cartography.
After moving to Santa Fe in 2016, she didn’t work in ceramics for seven and a half years until she was gifted a small studio space. “It was kind of a re-entry into having a studio practice,” brown says. Last summer, she was again gifted a studio space—this time, a much larger one. “It really set in motion a huge amount of inspiration and a chance to explore in a way that I have never had before,” she says, calling this “the birth of a new phase” in her work. Previously, she’d spent a lot of time working on the wheel, including jobs in production pottery, and she gradually began to veer away from utilitarian projects towards the world of sculpture.
With the gift of a new space, she gave herself permission to delve deeper into that world. “I see the work that's come from this time as an exploration,” she says, “but also as a conversation with my ancestors and the guides that I was calling in.”

Her techniques also evolved, stepping away from tradition and moving into much larger scales, and handbuilding rather than throwing on the wheel. At first, she saw this as something she needed to get out of her system. But as she worked, she began to hone in on themes and languages that “kept recurring in what was coming out of my hands and what was stuck in my craw.” Symbologies emerged among the different pieces, and she began to see that they are in dialog with one another. 

“I know I'm supposed to be here for some reason, but I also have this sense that there's a star out there that's got my name on it"

The vessels relate to one another as beings: different pairings are the elders, the sisters, the brothers. “In my own mind, they've been birthed, and they join the family,” brown says.
“I do believe I’m in conversation, very personally, with my ancestors,” she adds. This conversation informed the imagery that emerged: shapes that could represent Afro puffs, textures that call to mind fingerprints, relationships and spaces that evoke maps of the cosmos. 
“I often feel I'm not at home here on Earth,” brown says. “I know I'm supposed to be here for some reason, but I also have this sense that there's a star out there that's got my name on it, and my family's, and the rest of the DNA.” Her sculptures help access these kinds of “buried memories.”




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