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  • Writer's pictureBrittany Kiertzner

Fiber Talk Podcast Interview with Brittany Kiertzner/ Discussing Methodology and Meaning

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

Mixed-media and textile fine artist Brittany Kiertzner joins us this week at Fiber Talk a podcast interview discussing methodology and meaning. Her work in abstract embroidery transcends the boundaries of traditional stitching, creating a world of imaginative and evocative designs. Through a dynamic interplay of woven threads, Brittany’s work is influenced by traditional Mohawk splint basket making and subversion of materials through repurposing and synthesizing the past. Kiertzner exhibits regularly at the Ahmad Shariff Gallery and other art houses and keeps us a steady stream of creative art while raising three children under the age of five. Visit her various online channels to further explore her art.–Beth and Gary

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Transcript Text:


0:13

welcome back I'm Gary Parr and I'm Beth

0:16

Elliot and you're listening to Fiber

0:18

Talk the twice weekly podcast for needle

0:21

work artists our artist this week

0:23

Britany Kiertzner of Britney Kiertzner Fine Art

0:26

Brittany

0:27

welcome hi I'm here all right uh oh boy

0:32

this uh this artwork is is fun I was

0:36

fascinated and then when I noticed you

0:37

were using zip ties it's like wait a

0:39

minute what's she

0:41

doing this abstract Textile Art but

0:46

there's clearly an art background in you

0:49

is is it formal art training or are you

0:52

just a natural

0:53

artist uh probably a mix of both I do

0:58

have Fine Art degree went to Fullerton

1:01

Cal State Fullerton and and a few junior

1:05

colleges before that yeah what was Art

1:08

always your plan at least from what you

1:10

know family has explained like just I've

1:14

been working making art like since I was

1:18

little i' you know now as an adult I've

1:20

been given all these uh childhood

1:24

drawings and even embroidery work

1:27

that I did very young with my grandparents

1:31

uh my grandma's teaching me how to sew

1:33

and how to work in embroidery uh for a

1:36

very young age my parents buying me

1:39

embroidery kits you

1:41

know all those pattern seeking things

1:44

that you do um when you're child yeah so

1:48

yes uhuh okay so it's been in your blood

1:51

from day one then yes yeah so

1:56

obviously your grandma uh artistic

1:58

creative your mother too

2:00

uh my mother

2:01

supportive oh yeah so she would say

2:05

she's

2:06

supportive but uh but not uh not crafty

2:11

or anything she has yeah that's another

2:15

thing um but yeah I have I have a my uh

2:20

paternal grandmother actually a number

2:23

of uh great grandmas and aunts on that

2:28

side um that are very interested in

2:31

craft traditional craft as well um

2:34

because they're Mohawk

2:36

Iroquois oh that's so that's where the

2:39

basket weaving so the oh okay I see when

2:43

you when I you had showed the

2:44

example of Mohawk Iroquois basket weaving I

2:47

wasn't quite sure how that fit into the

2:49

picture so that's the that's the history

2:52

then yes they're uh very interested in

2:56

in those sorts of craft but also you

2:59

know American uh craft as well like you

3:03

know embroidery and things like that

3:05

knitting uh

3:08

crocheting too as well yeah so did you

3:11

learn how to do the um to make baskets

3:14

from your family

3:16

then no I didn't um I would say uh

3:20

there's a lot of that on our around us

3:23

my Grandma um collects a mohawk baskets so

3:27

I just kind of grew up with them all

3:29

over the house she had I don't know if

3:31

she has all of them still but she had

3:33

like hundreds of them at one point I

3:36

have a number of them too that have been

3:38

passed down they're kind of like

3:40

important sorts of things that you get

3:43

like when you get married or they're

3:45

like important gifts to give baskets so

3:49

your grandmother makes them or no she

3:52

doesn't make them my grandma um my dad's

3:55

mom uh

3:57

she uh knits crochet

4:01

it does

4:02

embroidery she likes to do cross-stitch a

4:05

lot cross stitching on

4:07

blankets I have a lot of those kind of

4:10

things um my grandmother her and my

4:14

great grandma her mother um did a lot of

4:17

embroidery too I have samples of her

4:19

work and I actually have her

4:24

um it's hard to explain but it's it's

4:26

like a pen cushion the Mohawk way of

4:30

making a pin cushion is to like have the

4:32

cushion set inside a mohawk basket and

4:36

so I have my great grandmother's pin

4:39

cushion

4:40

baskets and they're made in this

4:43

traditional sort of way you know like

4:45

the black ash and the sweet grass woven

4:49

oh you must send a photo yeah oh yeah

4:52

definitely they're they're um pretty

4:55

like standard like splint baskets made

4:58

out of those uh traditional

5:00

materials yeah but just have something

5:02

from your great-grandmother that that

5:04

makes it very special I think yes yeah

5:09

yeah and all those things were handmade

5:12

too yeah wow great that's so cool to

5:16

have that history the art obviously uh

5:19

in you right out of the gate did when

5:21

you went to uh school to get an art

5:24

degree what was your intent painter

5:28

drawing

5:30

yeah I would say it's been hard to

5:32

nail me down in one medium I think I've

5:35

sort of always been like mixed media

5:38

because I do a lot I have like a

5:42

strong drive to always be making work so

5:46

I'm always doing sort of things

5:49

simultaneously like even while I you see

5:52

on my account like while I'm doing my

5:55

fiber paintings I'm also like drawing

5:58

and

6:00

um and painting other things that I

6:03

might not show the world it's kind of

6:05

sort of my process I I like to think

6:08

that like if I'm spending a lot of time

6:10

in the abstract that I have to do

6:12

something on the side that's like going

6:14

to hone my eye so I'll Drew like a

6:18

really detailed line drawing of some

6:20

sort like I like to draw pictures

6:22

actually of all of my artist

6:26

friends I have lot of portfolios of

6:28

those sorts of things that I don't uh

6:31

that are just for me really I think it

6:34

trains my hand and my eye so I wondered

6:38

about that because uh the work that you

6:41

show is very very abstract and then

6:45

you know I wonder if as an abstract

6:47

artist that's all you do but no you

6:50

don't you need the variety then right

6:52

right so do you keep us daily Sketchbook

6:55

habit then I don't know if I'd say it's

6:56

daily but it's pretty regular so how did

6:59

you see yourself uh doing it as a

7:02

full-time is it is it a full-time uh job

7:05

if you will that your career that you

7:08

your art

7:09

or yeah it's my career um it's uh been a

7:14

sort of slow process buildup to this

7:18

point um and it's still in you know

7:22

still building I would say especially

7:24

this last year a number of the years I

7:27

wasn't on social media and I just been

7:31

you know making work I've been showing

7:34

work in like the gallery setting since

7:38

about 2007 just not like posting it you

7:43

know

7:45

online yeah which is the way the world

7:48

works now I suppose so that's why um

7:51

I've been sort of making these process

7:55

videos across different platforms more

7:57

recently so then it's it's create art to

8:00

sell or commission work or both I would

8:04

say it's mainly create art to sell but

8:07

also to create

8:11

art yeah I think it boils down to like I

8:16

going to make work whether or not it

8:18

sells right but

8:21

um yeah that's the artist right

8:24

there yeah you have to create yes I have

8:26

made some commissions certainly overall

8:29

these years but um typically it's like

8:32

difficult to kind of make commissions I

8:34

think because sort of the nature of what

8:37

I'm doing is uh

8:40

spontaneous and

8:42

intuitive and I can't like necessarily

8:47

guarantee that I will have the same

8:48

vision as what the collector

8:52

has so do you play music or do you just

8:57

get an emotion you feel like okay okay

8:59

that I'm going to start here how do you

9:01

start your

9:02

work I think it's like always sort of

9:07

um in my mind actually okay um I have uh

9:13

three young children uh five and under I

9:16

have a yeah so I have a I have a I have

9:18

a five-year-old and I have two-year-old

9:22

twins so you're busy I'm very busy and

9:26

so while I'm shuffling them around and

9:29

doing all those things I'm thinking

9:32

about what next step I want to take on

9:35

the work that

9:38

day so do you set up a do you set up a

9:41

time then because with small

9:44

children it you know they can

9:47

become everything where you don't have

9:50

time to yourself so do you have a set

9:51

time like in the morning or in the

9:52

evening and say well now's my time to

9:55

work oh yes yeah um so um I do lose a I

10:01

would say probably a fair amount of

10:02

sleep um with you know making certain

10:06

sacrifices to do this uh work I uh get

10:10

up very early in the morning most days

10:13

to make work about 4:30 in the morning I

10:17

also utilize nap time things like that I

10:20

am I definitely prioritize as you'll see

10:22

like of course on my platforms like I

10:26

am pretty much uh I set aside time every

10:29

single day always and I've done this for

10:32

a long

10:33

time great long

10:37

yep yeah I think it's important when

10:39

you're a young mom to take that time um

10:43

to yeah it's just I I think a lot of

10:46

people like at least people I know

10:48

personally spend a lot of time like

10:50

watching TV it's just it's like choices

10:53

right like my choice is instead of like

10:57

watching TV or doing something like that

10:59

I'd rather make work so do you feel more

11:01

creative like early in the morning is

11:03

that a good I mean like I'm more

11:05

creative in the morning I'm much more

11:08

than later at night so that's

11:10

where my question is coming from yeah oh

11:13

yes um yeah I would say I'm definitely a

11:15

morning

11:16

person yeah but also the quiet of like

11:19

the home the atmosphere is helpful I

11:22

think right so do you have a a

11:26

studio room or a room where you can go to

11:29

to escape to do

11:31

this yes I have like sort of two Studio

11:34

spaces I have like my home studio uh

11:38

room that I use to make work and also U

11:42

film as much as I do I think and then I

11:46

also um have a studio space in um

11:50

Claremont um at my gallery

11:54

representation as

11:57

well so you can do that too

12:03

yeah I don't know though like

12:05

having that energy also like sort of is

12:08

honed I think in like the work it um

12:12

drives you or at least does me um it

12:16

helps me like I don't know seeing how

12:20

like their young bodies like are

12:25

interested in like material also maybe

12:27

is coming

12:29

into my work like how I can sort of

12:32

picture things so the work that you been

12:35

that you show on uh on your Instagram

12:38

account and on your website the uh mixed

12:42

media um but

12:44

with uh thread yarn wire zip ties you

12:50

name it how did that whole concept come

12:53

to be is that uh just had a a vision one

12:57

day or is that an evolution through uh

13:00

through some time I think it's a mixture

13:02

of all those things probably also

13:05

Evolution but I think I've always been

13:07

really interested in exploring like

13:10

critical materials and exploring how

13:14

like critical materials like reflect my

13:16

culture um my personal history how like

13:20

a wide range of materials can be like

13:23

intertwined juxtaposed it's like sort of

13:26

a metaphor I think from my background

13:29

I there like uh repurposing things too

13:33

like um just exploring

13:37

like things beyond like imitation and

13:40

like pattern seeking a I know a lot of

13:44

embroidery and fiber work is is at least

13:48

like in traditional craft very pattern

13:50

seeking and I'm really interested in

13:52

like and moving away from like that

13:54

practical

13:56

sense like my aesthetics I think are

13:58

more abstracted just because I'm looking

14:02

to like carry social and personal

14:05

messages so when you start one of these

14:08

uh abstract pieces is there a plan

14:12

laid out on a piece of paper in your

14:14

Sketchbook or do you just pick up

14:17

a piece of whatever it is you use

14:20

for ground or background and just

14:23

let your hands go and see what comes

14:26

out exactly that um I it's like a very

14:30

slow process of building everything and

14:34

then like once I have sort of what I

14:36

feel like as like a a framework I begin

14:40

weaving the fibers on

14:43

top and almost like a splint basketry

14:46

kind of way okay I can see that I can

14:49

see that because um looking at your work

14:52

you know you see how it you've woven

14:55

things in and out and then underneath

14:58

though you have

14:59

it seems like you sometimes have paint

15:01

right so you like having a background

15:03

layer of color instead of using just

15:06

like the blank canvas right yeah I've

15:10

I've been experimenting more recently

15:12

with paint um on as the

15:15

ground I love painting as well so when I

15:20

can incorporate that I like trying to

15:23

right yeah it feels like I'm

15:25

synthesizing something new that's

15:28

different the thing that I think both

15:30

Beth and I noted watching the little

15:33

video clips that you you'd posted is

15:36

that uh the work is I mean in

15:39

relative terms quite physical as opposed

15:41

to traditional embroidery where you sit

15:43

in a chair and move your hands and

15:46

nothing else I mean you are up on your

15:47

feet and working both sides of that

15:49

thing um yes yeah so yeah I like the

15:55

physicality of what I'm doing right now

15:57

yes and I like that it sort of requires

15:59

me to stand it's funny how like you

16:02

think of like run the runner who's like

16:04

running miles and like sort of working

16:07

through like their thoughts it sort of

16:10

feels like that but also the rhythmic of

16:13

it like instead of the foot pattern of

16:15

running it's like the punch and the the

16:19

pull of the

16:22

thread yeah so take us through the

16:25

materials that you use

16:27

because it seems like very little is

16:30

off limits to you uh is it yarn thread

16:33

string what do you dye it uh yeah I use

16:39

the variety of things I like I would

16:41

say the vast majority is like the basic

16:45

sort of cotton DMC or also silk uh

16:50

embroidery thread is like the large part

16:52

of what I'm doing but I also do use um

16:56

yarn uh wax

16:59

cord I like to repurpose textiles like

17:02

Fabrics um that I might cut up into

17:06

strips and use as a another form of

17:11

fiber I really like achieving like

17:14

straightness like straight lines rather

17:16

than like I think a lot of embroider is

17:19

very curved um and like round um and I

17:25

really want to achieve more of like sort

17:27

of the linear

17:29

overlapping woven look so I do it with a

17:34

lot of straight lines yeah it's

17:36

interesting to see what you're able

17:37

to do with uh basically yeah just long

17:42

straight lines and the way you

17:44

interweave them and uh connect the

17:47

colors and then at some point you said

17:50

you were experimenting with wire how

17:52

that's got to be a challenge just

17:55

to handle the

17:56

material yes I using

17:59

wire um as well and that's fun I um my

18:03

recent sculptures that I've been making

18:05

um For an upcoming exhibition I fill out

18:10

an um

18:12

galvanized uh wire um these wire frames

18:16

and then I uh sew the fabric like

18:20

repurposed Fabrics on the top and then

18:25

I've been Plastering those and then I do

18:27

the embroidery on them and some of it

18:30

you have these wooden stands that

18:32

you're working on to hold the piece uh

18:34

those look like something you had to

18:36

designed to meet your needs

18:38

or well they're actually

18:41

painting easel oh they are oh I have a

18:44

variety of easel that I use yeah the

18:49

different certain ones I think sort of

18:51

fit like the purpose of what I'm trying

18:55

to achieve

18:56

easier um and some don't like some

18:59

of them have a lot of like one of them I

19:02

have has like these knobs on the bottom

19:06

that can kind of be a nuisance if I'm

19:07

not like careful I can get the wires or

19:10

or even the fiber like wrapped around

19:12

them

19:14

so I have my favorites that I use yeah

19:17

and that was the other thing I

19:18

wondered as you're doing creating

19:21

these pieces is these long strands that

19:24

you're using uh a lot of it seems like

19:27

there's an awful lot or would be an

19:29

awful lot of uh care to make sure you

19:31

don't get things all tangled up there is

19:33

a lot of that sort of nuisance to this

19:37

aspect like of work like um my biggest

19:42

like issue is like getting like knots

19:45

like embroidery fiber like loves to get

19:48

tangled into knots

19:50

right yeah so I battle knots a lot I'm

19:54

actually an expert now in releasing

19:57

knots

19:59

bring me your knots and I will I will

20:02

untangle it for

20:04

you yeah we know we all know about those

20:07

knots and yeah always on the backside 20

20:11

stitches ago and oh gez really yep oh

20:16

yeah yes sometimes it's easier to just

20:20

keep on

20:21

going yes you mentioned about uh Gallery

20:26

representation and uh uh exhibitions is

20:31

that kind of your goal day to day is to

20:34

create pieces for the gallery how what

20:37

is what is your uh Arrangement there in

20:40

terms of displaying your art right

20:42

now I mean I did have a recent solo show

20:46

um at my gallery that I'm represented

20:49

with right now um the Ahmad Shariff Gallery

20:52

in Claremont California I also like

20:56

participate in a lot of going

20:59

exhibitions and just events at the

21:02

gallery Claremont in downtown

21:05

claremont art scene. Its um like a local hub for

21:10

artists um and we're very supportive of

21:13

each

21:14

other there's a wide range of artists

21:17

making work my solo I had a mix of you

21:22

know my embroidery like I like to think

21:25

of them as like paintings so my

21:26

embroidery paintings and then my mixed

21:29

media paintings and sculpture as well

21:33

and an

21:35

installation but yeah I have ongoing

21:37

things with um that Gallery um I also

21:41

I'm you know represented on Arty

21:44

arts.com

21:47

and I um I'm in a group exhibition the

21:52

threads that bind at the Brea Gallery

21:56

well it's hosted by the Brea gallery was

21:58

curated by um Museo art and culture

22:03

Museum and so I'm in that exhibition

22:06

right

22:08

now and I also have an upcoming

22:11

exhibition um early next year in the

22:14

spring at the um sassy museum of art

22:18

that I'll be having a solo exhibition

22:19

for as well wow you're actively showing

22:22

all several places that's great do you

22:24

create for an exhibition or do you just

22:27

keep creating art and then when it's

22:30

time for an exhibition select what you

22:33

want to show well I'm always making work

22:37

and I would say typically I have like a

22:40

sort of uh sense of when uh this is

22:44

becoming a body of work like cohesive

22:48

translating into a cohesive body and um

22:53

at least in the last while I've it's

22:56

been more of like I'm work and then

22:59

simultaneously I'm having people um

23:02

reach out to me and ask me to exhibit

23:05

the

23:07

work that sort of is the process at the

23:10

moment yeah

23:13

okay it see it seemed like and you maybe

23:16

I'm reading too much into it but you one

23:18

of the things that we have discussed

23:20

with other guests is the whole

23:24

approach to art that if it isn't

23:26

painting sculpture drawing or

23:28

photography it's not real

23:30

art and uh I like that you refer to your

23:34

art as

23:36

painting uh do you find that your

23:40

obviously your art is accepted uh as

23:43

your textile basically Textile Art is

23:46

accepted in in the general art community

23:49

so you don't get that that

23:52

resistance no I think it might be sort

23:57

of the Community as well like um I would

24:00

say in La there are a lot of textile

24:04

artists and um it is fine art um it is

24:08

not like necessarily craft although I

24:12

suppose there's probably a

24:14

blurring um at times um but just because

24:18

it's the medium that would used as like

24:22

traditional craft I would say the

24:24

practice is uh and the result is finally

24:29

art oh yeah we I mean we agree 100%

24:33

that it's art there's no question about

24:35

it uh but uh we run into one more than

24:38

one where there's clear separation in

24:41

the minds of

24:43

some yeah I think the textile uh art

24:48

community um largely is centered in and

24:53

making uh the material medium into

24:57

new contemporary context like

25:01

explaining you know their own

25:04

personal um

25:05

narratives mine happens to

25:08

be um at the moment centered around like

25:11

empowerment against adversity sort of

25:14

like unraveling like personal cultural

25:18

history I would say I'm really

25:19

interested in like creating something

25:21

new but there's also sort of A

25:24

disruption and subversion of the

25:26

materials like

25:28

working in this mixed media and textile

25:30

format I'm

25:31

synthesizing sort you know the material

25:34

like and the past it feels really like

25:37

regenerative it feels

25:39

authentic sort of intrinsic too like

25:43

just because you know now like with well

25:47

technology like um Ai and um there's a

25:51

lot of like coping and um yes it's

25:56

like hard to tell

25:58

like where the hand sort of takes place

26:02

in the

26:02

work um I'm almost like driven uh right

26:06

now to make work that's like difficult

26:09

to take pictures of or even videos like

26:13

I've had a lot of people tell me that

26:17

standing in front of it is different

26:20

than seeing the picture of it and that's

26:22

sort of like my drive um if you will

26:26

yeah we've have been having discussions

26:27

lately about copyrights

26:29

and uh yeah basically theft of Art and

26:35

yeah it's um gets easier every day yeah

26:40

frustrating

26:41

yeah I think it's just um

26:45

just differences like I understand

26:49

like um the sort of social pressures or

26:53

like reasons why people make prints

26:57

versus only Originals um I think just

27:00

like for my purpose like it's just

27:03

something that I um really interested in

27:06

for my work is just having it be solely

27:09

like original so do you feel your art

27:13

evolving uh with time and that if we

27:16

come back to you in a year you you're

27:18

likely doing something completely

27:20

different or are you still really in the

27:23

middle of exploring this uh this current

27:26

form yeah I think if you went forward in

27:31

his you know forward in time I think you

27:33

would still see you'd still see my voice

27:36

like you would still see like it would

27:39

still be recognizable as

27:42

mine um it just might have changed like

27:48

slightly you know in a parents right I'm

27:51

always like sort of challenging

27:54

myself to um just like experience

28:00

the creation differently but I think

28:03

there are a lot of s similar sort of

28:05

forms and patterns in all of it I'm just

28:08

really I'm really interested in like

28:10

finding new ways to sort of achieve like

28:13

movement

28:14

and the like linear sort of woven

28:19

aspect it's funny because if you look at

28:22

my paintings even from years and years

28:24

back it's like always there like I

28:27

really interested

28:29

in in like overlapping lines for some

28:32

reason and so I I will probably continue

28:36

to find new ways to do that yeah

28:40

you express an awful lot with those

28:42

over overlapping lines so um yeah

28:47

so then uh you mentioned a couple of

28:49

exhibits is that pretty much what lies

28:51

ahead for you is creating art for uh

28:56

exhibits yeah I have a few exhibitions

29:01

planned um I have some things also that

29:05

sound like they're in the works as well

29:08

um so I'll continue to keep busy as I

29:11

always am yeah y all right well Brittany

29:15

thank you so much this is It's just

29:18

absolutely fascinating art and how

29:20

you achieve it is fun to watch so uh

29:24

thanks for sharing with us we

29:25

appreciate it great thank you for having

29:28

me on your show all right thanks and

29:30

thanks everyone for

29:49

listening

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