Photo: Renee Brown, detail of Wulfenite with Cerussite, Stellenite, Botryoidal Plumium, 2014, copyright the artist.

Renée Brown: Profusion

February 2 2015 - June 20 2015

Missoula-based artist Renée Brown is no stranger to the ceramics community, and we are excited to present her first solo MAM exhibition. The exhibition explores the natural world, with Brown re-examining stones and minerals that so fascinated her in her youth. It is no coincidence that the installation feels like a mineral show. A mature ceramic artist, Brown has been attracted to the natural compositions in gems, minerals, and stones, and into exploring the resulting vision.

Brown’s work has an immediate impact and is easily accessed. Viewers are engaged on several levels: partly fascinated with the natural curiosity of mineralogy, partly empathizing with the artist’s vision of recreating the shape and forms that are sculptural and expressive. She says, “Growing up in Conyers, GA, clay was always under my nails. As a young girl, I spent hours playing in the creek bed catching crawfish and feeling the auburn clay squish between my toes. I was a natural rock hound; my science projects were inevitably about the different quartz and granites found in the area. My parents took me to amazing places like Yosemite National Park, the Petrified Forest, and the museums in Washington, D.C.”

Brown pursued ceramics as a studio potter creating functional work. This exhibition testifies to how far an artist can go in evolving away from function toward sculptural expressive forms. And nothing seems to be further away from function than simply elemental minerals. The irony is that ceramics itself is rooted in mineral extraction. The artworks run full-circle, reincarnating clay and glazes and paints with their origins.

“I spent my 20s as an interior designer in Atlanta,” Brown says of her growth as an artist, “developing visual skills of combining color, shape, and texture within the built environment. In 2003, I left the design industry to pursue my MFA in ceramics.” Brown received her MFA in ceramics at the University of North Texas. She has completed several artist residencies, including at the Archie Bray Foundation, the Red Lodge Clay Center, and the Clay Studio of Missoula. She now maintains a studio in the historic Brunswick Building in downtown Missoula.