Rachel Rushing

Sebastiaan Bremer is a Dutch artist, born in Amsterdam in 1970, living and working in New York. During his high school years he worked in a comic book store, “dabbling in illustration and comics” (Nathan). When he was 19, Bremer attended the Vrije Academie in The Hague. He has expressed being specifically influenced by Dutch painters including Melle, Albert Eckhout and Frans Post. Little personal history on Bremer is available online, which is intriguing and elusive when most of his work utilized either personal family photographs, or at the minimum he has “a strong connection to what is captured in the photograph―it takes too long and too much energy not to be completely smitten and engaged with the subject matter” (Dentz).

©Sebastiaan Bremer

When beginning a new piece, Bremer begins with a photograph. Sometimes the images are snapshots from his childhood, sometimes they are academic glass slides of a specific place, some are found photographs of a mysterious family on vacation, and some photographs are simply exposed, black photographic paper. Once the image is decided upon, it is enlarged to the desired size and, typically, printed as a chromogenic print. Sizes range from seven feet, to nine inches, to two inches. It is at this stage that Bremer then applies, with various inks and dyes, hundreds to thousands of dots throughout the piece. These dots begin to transform into webs of information- they may sit on the surface of the image, or they may begin to interact with the subject matter within each photograph.

©Sebastiaan Bremer

©Sebastiaan Bremer

When Emily Nathan, in an interview for ARTslant, asked about the decorative nature of his work, Bremer responded,

“I think “decoration” is a word that sometimes gets misused, as it accrues the connotation of being shallow and superficial, which I think sells it short. I think there is a lot to see in the “decorative,” in wallpaper, clouds or the swirling patterns of marble. Losing yourself in the “surface” allows the mind to travel, and sometimes I use that in my work as well. I draw on my pictures so you can see them through my eyes.”

He went on to describe the markings of his work as meditative, recording his time spent with each piece, a record and map of his thoughts within a visual language. In several interviews, Bremer referred to the photograph as having a “talismanic” and mysterious power. “I don’t think anyone would argue that there is anything objective or documentary about a photograph anymore, if there ever really was. That said, when we see a photograph, it somehow convinces and seduces us to feel that it does indeed have the potential to express Truth” (Nathan).

Whatever that potential for Truth alludes to, it is at the very least indicative of the passage of time. While photographs, or even the representation of a photograph communicates a specific instance, the labor-intensive methods Bremer employs over each piece to alter, record, and imbue the imagery with new associations thus alters the representation of time.

“By drawing on the photographic image I change everything and add the real component of time. My associations, ideas, and changes of direction―it all finds its way to the picture. If I have more than one photographic image I want to include, I might end up layering them on top of each other, which makes things a bit more obscure and harder to read. But at the same time that confusion can be a more realistic record than just a tenth of a second captured in time, as in a “pure” photograph. This is my way to get out of the one-person perspective; it’s almost as if you were listening to different takes on a place or a moment in time” (Dentz).

Interviewer Shoshanna Dentz commented that “It seems… you are talking about the past and the present being fused; not simply coexisting, but actually sharing the same dimensional plane. Your work seems to attempt a “constant present” where everything keeps going and living, nothing slides into the past.” to which Bremer replied “Yeah, that’s nice.”

©Sebastiaan Bremer

©Sebastiaan Bremer

©Sebastiaan Bremer

©Sebastiaan Bremer

©Sebastiaan Bremer

Sebastiaan Bremer
Sebastiaan Bremer Biography and Links on Artnet
“Sebastiaan Bremer.” Interview by Shoshana Dentz in BOMB, Issue 112 Summer 2010
“The Slant on Sebastiaan Bremer.” Interview by Emily Nathan for ARTslant: New York
“Sebastiaan Bremer.” The Brooklyn Rail
Otis Bolsky Gallery: When It’s a Photograph. Soo Kim, Interim Director of Photography, Otis College of Art and Design.
“Sebastiaan Bremer.” Escape Into Life.
Sebastiaan Bremer for Lindamagazine.nl.

Christine Elfman is an MFA graduate from the California College of the Arts in San Fransisco. With an undergraduate background in painting, she also works in fibers and photography. Though she is just beginning her career, Elfman as already received several fellowships and solo exhibitions throughout the country. Through her work with the George Eastman House and work with other artists, she has taken a steeped interest in 19th century photographic processes.

©Christine Elfman

When approaching her work, I find Elfman to be deeply interested in the history of an object or a process. Desiring to remain faithful to an origin and heritage, her “inspiration to learn old crafts comes from an attraction towards intricacy visible in careful making rather than patina” (Lucas). When approaching Anthotype Dress- Pokeweed, Elfman was inspired by the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorn and was considering the ideas of the Fading Comittee, 1855, and the desire for permanence within photography. With her experience in historical processes, Elfman found “the Anthotype process is particularly striking; it yields a photograph that cannot be fixed. Not only does it contradict the goal of permanence, it is made out of impermanence” (Lucas). Several times Elfman has referenced the Focal Encyclopedia’s definition of the Anthotype:

“A process suggested by Sir John Herschel in 1842 that used the colored extracts and tinctures of flowers and vegetables to sensitize paper. Objects such as leaves, lace, and other thin materials were placed in contact with the sensitized paper and exposed to sunlight. Anthotypes were not fixed or stabilized, making them impossible to display except in night albums, for evening viewing.”

©Christine Elfman

©Christine Elfman

©Christine Elfman

©Christine Elfman

©Christine Elfman

©Christine Elfman

©Christine Elfman

©Christine Elfman

©Christine Elfman

Elfman’s work is full of beautiful dualities: permanence and impermanence, the destructive process of representation, the sacrifice of subject for the sake of the viewer.

Christine Elfman
“Christine Elfman.” Interview by Kija Lucas, Black Boots Ink.
“Christine Elfman.” L E N S C R A T C H

Sunday morning I watched Art & Copy, a documentary on the advertising industry. I took two main points from the film, and I think they’re worth sharing. Firstly, I love what Liz Dolan, former head of marketing at NIKE, had to say about quality:  “I understand why people trash advertising, because a lot of advertising is trashy. People aren’t really aspiring to do something creative or illuminating or inspiring. They’re aiming low.” If I apply this thought process to art, I understand why fine art is intimidating and why almost any creative endeavor is usually met with at least doubt, if not contempt or ,even worse, apathy.  There is a lot of bad art out there. Of course ‘bad’ is a subjective term, but speaking generically, art that is insulting or intimidating to the average member of society is so because it is presented poorly.  Artists MUST police themselves; they must be able to take criticism and be able to criticize themselves to keep bad ideas off the streets.

Advertising (and I would argue art, as well) is an industry built on negativity and censorship. Hopefully, in any firm, it’s censorship of bad ideas. As a creative person, you have to edit yourself- no one can guarantee to have only good ideas. Being a creative professional is risky because of the lack of formulaic manufacturing of good ideas- we come up with bad ideas just as often.  We have to work through them and figure out which ones we need to trash and which ones we need to nurture. And creative people need a nurturing environment to instill the courage it takes to come up with bad ideas before they can get to the good ones.

That sort of nurturing comes in different forms, but I love the giant wall piece in Wieden/Kennedy.

Fail Harder is a beautiful statement about what kind of attitude it takes to have big ideas. As David Kennedy put it “It’s like Babe Ruth swinging for a home-run. If you miss, you miss, but at least you swung the bat as hard as you could.” Art & Copy connects this to the 1999 Air Jordan campaign that ends in Michael saying, “I have failed over and over again in my career. And that is why I succeed.”

*yes, I have religious beliefs. letting you know now, so no one feels tricked.

Intelligent people are always ready to learn.
Their ears are open for knowledge. (Prov. 18:15)

Wise men know, if you want to be wise, you must keep learning. If you want to keep learning, you must surround yourself with people who are wiser and smarter than you.  This takes an incredible amount of humility and is why I love art, faith, and education.

Art is always about something. Even if it’s about nothing, it’s about something. Artists are this amazing group of people who question and communicate in any language available to them.  Personally, the most interesting art questions & asks viewers to do the same. The Impressionists wanted to question the very nature of paint, of light and all it’s facets. Dada questioned the nature of everything- could anything be art? I suppose their conclusion was that if anything could be studied or questioned, then yes, it could be art. I am an artist because I like being questioned and I like questioning others. I like the possibility in problems, and have difficulty understanding when others are more intimidated by the challenges. I think this is what God asks of us too.

A few days ago I read the vision statement for International Arts Movement. I am extremely interested in the relationship between my art and my faith, and how the two can interact. I love this quote from their statement, “Our programming and resources equip the creative community to generate good, true, and beautiful cultural artifacts: sign-posts pointing toward the “world that ought to be.” Through understanding the culture that is and looking toward what could be, we hope to rehumanize our world.” Their mission statement is music to my ears, “IAM gathers artists and creative catalysts to wrestle with the deep questions of art, faith, and humanity in order to inspire the creative community to engage…”

There are critics of any faith, always with the question of “How can you REALLY know?”. A lot of people say critics always assume anyone with any faith is just ignorant and uneducated (no one’s ever said that to me, personally, so this is here-say), but I tend to disagree. One of my favorite things about God is that he lets us question- he gives us that much freedom!  We can question everything in the universe- he gave us the brains, ingenuity, and curiosity to do so.

One of my hubs’ favorite discoveries about the universe (and part of his logic behind Intelligent Design) is the Golden Ratio.

This amazing pattern/formula is found in every single part of nature. It’s the shape of a human ear, the pattern of a shell, the arrangement of branches in a tree. My personal favorite offshoot of the Golden Ratio is the fractal.

Fractals are natural patterns in which the small parts are copies of the whole (self-similar, which, interestingly enough, is how I think Believers are supposed to reflect Christ who reflects the Father).

Basically that means that if you measured the width of a tree branch, then measured the size of each limb on that branch, then measured the size of each stick on each limb, they would all be proportional to each other. Not only that, but a group of researchers actually went out and measured a forest in South America like this, then they measured the placement of each tree in the forest and tree PLACEMENT was proportional too! A video on fractals, including the study done, can be found here.

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to fore go their use.” -Galileo

“Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish…We need each other to be what we must be, what we are called to be.” – Pope John Paul II

All this to say that I find art and faith exciting for the same reasons. This love of learning leads to my enjoyment in education.  Sadly our current model of education is rote memorization, not real learning.  If we can teach students to question, rather than memorize, perhaps future generations will actually have a creative and unpredictable future. I watched the following video this morning and just love the challenge in this woman’s message.

I also love Geoffrey Canada in this video:

A few inspiring places to look: Donald Miller, International Arts Movement, GOOD, Bob Goff, BOOOOOOOOM, the world

It’s Wednesday and what better time to share links and info about fellow craftisans that will make your heart go all a flutter?

The Sweet Hubs and I have been here for about a month now and the longer we’re here the more awesome things I find to love about our new home. (I’ll say now that our former place of residence was a smaller town with a fairly minimal creative community, so I get very excited about finding so many like-minded individuals living close by.)

The first major discovery came last week when, through a fun string of events, I walked through the doors of Oil and Cotton.  All you need to do is take a look at their project board to get your heart skipping a beat.

They’ve only been open about a week, but already have a full fall schedule of classes including Polish Paper Chandeliers (this Thursday), Felting and Fiber Arts, Bookbinding, and weekly classes for all ages. Oil and Cotton is a self-defined “creative commons for meeting, learning and sharing ideas” and if you have any inkling of love for craft or just creativity, then you NEED to stop by and say hello!

The magic of the internet is that you can discover a beautiful forum for creativity and never know how you got there, which is how I found this sweet & precious blog, . I’m sure I randomly clicked on a twitter link somewhere to find them, and much to my delight, they are yet ANOTHER Dallas-based design blog! With a by-line of ‘live what you love’, I’m sure this is just one more group of lovelies that will be encouraging and inspiring while we’re living in the big D.

Upon perusal of By & By I found a most intriguing poster

Of course with such classy design I had to read it, and what do I see, but Dallas, TX listed in the address! The goal of Red’s Pop Shop is to “provide an accessible platform for individuals to view an array of homegrown talent while supporting the Lower Greenville area.”  Better believe I know what I’m doing this weekend!

Two of the vendors included in this fantastic affair are Bee Things and Lilco Letterpress.

I know Bee Things is a shop I’ll love when their About page quotes Jim Henson.

Thus far, my favorite bit of work from them has to be Puffin.

This little guy needs a home in my apartment! aside from simply great prints, I love their series of sack lunch bags. Way to teach an old dog new tricks!

Ok, ok, this is the last one. I promise!

Lilco Letterpress: a little letterpress co.

Maybe it’s just part of my dream or a longing somewhere on the inside combined with my deeply rooted love for old, hand-processed techniques, but I would LOVE  to work in a letterpress shop. Everytime I find a new printshop online, I just start dreaming.

Lilco has the same effect! They’re online gallery shows a fine bit of print work while their etsy shop has all their lovely work right at your fingertips!

One day I’ll have to sit down and figure out how to describe all these styles of work/printing. Until then, walk tall, make beautiful work, and dress like a pirate.


After graduating back in May I had a bit of ‘artist’s block’ through the summer. First I couldn’t think of anything to make, then I had ideas, but none of them were any good. Eventually I just decided it was time to shut up and start getting to work. Books were my go-to craft because I could busy my hands and be productive.

Then we moved to Dallas and the whole cycle has started again. In my small college town, I could at least feel ok about being unproductive because I didn’t see lots of other people making art either. I could wallow in my self-pity while my friends tried to be encouraging, but being an artist without someone telling me what to do- that is something I have to spur myself on to.

Now that I’m in Dallas, in the presence of a rather large art community, I know play time is over and it’s time to get to business. With that in mind I went to my first art opening that didn’t have someone I knew in it.  My first big-kid opening with just me and my hubs going in like Russian spies. It was at Guerilla Arts and Gabriel Dawe was the artist.  I saw Dallas Contemporary tweet about the opening and searched Dawe’s site for more information on who he is and what his work is about.

The first thing I see on his site (aside from the brightly colored thread work) is the term ‘installation’ and my insides got all warm and fuzzy (I have a special place in my heart for installation work). His installation, fiber art, and object work all have some kind of tension.  At the opening for Plexus No. 3 his piece was no different. I walked into the main gallery space to a giant, floor-to-ceiling sculpture of thread. Dawe took 5x1x1″ strips of wood and attached them parallell to each other on the floor and the ceiling. Along the wood, at about 1″ increments he placed nails.  Thread was then woven along each nail from each floor-to-ceiling set, with about 10 separate sets and each one a different color.  The entire sculpture gradated from deep indigo through the color spectrum. The precision of his weaving created beautiful moiré effects along each set.

The entire piece was an impressive scale and an impressive amount of work put in.  With such a simple structure the back end/ prep work added just the right amount of complexity to keep viewers engaged/ in awe.

My only disappointment with the show was the lack of an artist statment.  No where in the gallery or on Dawe’s website could I find a statement with any sort of explanation of why he made this work, why it was interesting to him, if he had a point to any of it. Personally, it’s always the statement that takes an abstract piece from being decorative to conceptual artwork.

Overall, it was a beautiful piece of work and I hope there is more meat to it than I was able to find. After seeing Dawe’s work I am definitely ready to get a move on in my own endeavors!


Here you can see the actual installation on Glasstire.