Artist Spotlight: Debra Broz
Selected by AMOA as one of the 15 Artists to Watch in Austin, Debra Broz bridges the gap between fine art and craft. A porcelain restorer by trade, for her recent works she has reconfigured kitsch found animal figurines into works of art, by transplanting their ceramic limbs and merging creatures together. She says: "On one hand I am always referencing the history that is within these objects, but on the other hand I am simultaneously altering the context of that history...my work is an opportunity for me to alter the viewer’s perception of an object, or to heighten their awareness of it."
Debra Broz, in her studio with her "Polycephelus (Lamb)"
The two-headed lamb above and the "Ear Wings (White Rabbit)" below are part of Broz's Oddities series. She says: "I work as a porcelain restorer, and one day, while thrifting, I found these two 1950s lamb figurines from Japan and had what I thought was a brilliant idea about recombining ceramics using my restoration skills." The lamb was the first in her series of ceramic modifications.
"Ear Wings (White Rabbit)" 2010, found ceramic object, epoxy compound and paint; on display at the Austin Museum of Art as part of the New Art in Austin exhibition
Originally from rural Missouri, Broz says: "I've always been attracted to ceramic kitsch — I grew up in the Midwest where these ceramics are a very prevalent decoration so they were already a part of my vernacular. I collected miniatures in a little shadow box as a kid and good stuff like that. I've made about 20 of these works now — it takes quite a bit of time to find the right things to alter — and I'm very specific about how I change them. Each piece has a little story I've made up for it."
Broz has called Austin home since 2005, after graduating with a BFA magna cum laude from Maryville University in St. Louis. In addition to creating her art, she owns Science of Art Restoration, she is editor for local visual art magazine Cantanker, and she is acting director of the Pump Project Art Complex. Broz says: "Being at Pump Project is an interesting experience because everyone is always involved in the process of making something, and there is a community for advice and support."
"Closed Mouths" 2010, Debra Broz and Mark Johnson
Made from envelopes that she collected and sewed closed with gold thread, Broz created "Closed Mouths" with artist Mark Johnson for the Fifth Business exhibition last year at Pump Project. The envelopes are hinged to the backing and so they move slightly. Broz says, "I like this work because it's mysterious. It's about secrets. I like the ability to hide things inside a work of art, and I'm a pretty private person, so I like the fact that in this piece the viewer is unsure what is inside the envelopes, and you could never know without dismantling the entire work."
"Nest Builder (White)" 2010, porcelain object, epoxy compound, paint and plaster on beeswax covered paper in wooden box
According to Broz, "Nest Builder (White)," which is part of a vintage porcelain birds series, is a combination of her altered ceramics and her work on paper. She says: "All the birds were altered in some way, and I've imagined them in these scenes building nests out of odd objects."
Don't miss Broz's work in the AMOA Downtown's New Art in Austin exhibition, running from February 26 through May. Eleven of the altered ceramic pieces from her Oddities collection will be on display at the Museum. The opening coincides with Art Night Austin, so to be one of the first in town to see the exhibit, get your tickets at artallianceaustin.org. Broz will be speaking at the Museum on March 24 at 7pm.
Below is a video by filmographer Arden Durham in which Broz further discusses her process.