Recently I visited the studio of Brece Honeycutt, a visual artist whose work draws inspiration from nature and history. As an undergraduate at Skidmore College, Brece majored in art history and eventually pursued a graduate degree at Columbia University in studio art focusing on sculpture. Since then her artistic output has evolved beyond one medium and now encompases painting, drawing, book making and a unique vintage-couture line. Often combining elements from a range of genres, Brece’s work results in delicately elaborate installations. Entering her studio bespeaks of experiencing such installations.
Located near the town of Egremont, Massachusetts, the studio resonates with its outdoor surroundings and everything contained inside: Brece’s paintings, drawings, sketches, artist books, newspaper clippings, found abandoned birds’ nests, twigs, baskets of dried flowers to be used for natural dyes, colorful yarns, pencils, brushes, crayons, rulers.. It’s a feast for the senses. The place has a sense of order, a serenity but also an invitation to explore and play.
A sense of contemplation permeates. Things are brought from the outside and carefully arranged with other similar objects. There are couple of dedicated work/production spaces and others reserved for reading, listening, looking out the windows. The studio is across the street from where Brece resides and it too was once part of a colonial farm. A barn-like structure, the studio building not too long ago housed an antiques store. A beautiful rolling hill landscape stretches out behind leading to a pond. The surroundings framed by birch and other trees are in visible dialogue with Brece’s work. The environment both shapes and informs it.
In Brece’s words: “The studio for me is both outside & inside. As I walk outside to soak in the place, to trod the adjacent fields and forests, my pockets fill with the landscape’s treasures–birch bark with its dots and dashes, unfurling hornet’s nests, fallen flowers & leaves, cast-off feathers; and at the same time, my mind undertakes the cataloguing of the daily changes–freshly sprouted spring ephemerals, the autumn return of the junco, the mint filled with feasting honeybees. Later, these findings and sitings inform my work, and become marks on both paper and cloth and imbue the interior, mind and space, with the spirit of the exterior.”
This post is an attempt at showing that “spirit of the exterior” Brece refers to above. The images desire to reveal the atmosphere of the studio without focusing on the actual work. I wasn’t sure what I was going to photograph, or how, when I first got the idea of wanting to ‘document’ her studio. I just felt compelled to do so inspired by the wonder and beauty encountered there. We briefly spoke about the importance of having a studio and what that experience is like.
In addition to Brece’s statement above, she also sent the quote below from Susan Howe’s book, “Debths,” which so profoundly evokes the artist’s practice:
“Our eyes see what is outside in the landscape in the form of words on paper but inside, a slash or mark wells up from a deeper place where music before counting hails from.” Susan Howe, Debths, (New York: New Directions, 2017), pg. 22.
Inspired by Brece’s work, the afternoon we spent together conversing about art, nature, books and life as well as my introduction to Susan Howe’s writing (thank you Brece!), a another quote from “Debths” as an endnote:
“Life/soul. Color, bearing, shape, magnitude, figure, habits corporis, anima.”
For more information about Brece Honeycutt and to see her work please check out her website at: brecehoneycutt.com