Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Take a dare on the ‘Wonder Series’

New collection by Brittany Sanders has a cosmic aura

Express Staff Writer

“Untitled” by Brittany Sanders. Gouache and watercolor on Shojo-Shi paper at the Ochi Gallery.

Four years ago, artist Brittany Sanders bought a studio in the light industrial neighborhood in Ketchum to create works of art and enjoy the environs of Sun Valley, a place she has been calling a second home since she was a little girl.

"I love my neighborhood and I have very good neighbors," Sanders said. "I have easy access to supplies like sheet metal, which is coveted by an artist. The people who work with their hands are all in my neighborhood."

Ketchum in no small part has definitely influenced Sanders' latest body of work, "Wonder Series," as has her life traveling around the globe and living part-time in New York City.

"As an artist, your work always references other work," she said. "It's your hand gesture that creates."

Sanders' "Wonder Series" opens today, Wednesday, Aug. 17, at the Ochi Gallery on Walnut Avenue in Ketchum with a reception from 6-9 p.m.

The "Wonder Series" is a collection of mesmerizing watercolors that Sanders created to explore her longstanding fascination with the cosmos. Painted using a laborious layering process with gouache and watercolor on Arches and Japanese Shojo-shi paper, Sanders achieves a striking sense of depth. By forming an aura around miniscule dots of bare paper, even when working in a smaller scale, Sanders attempts to capture the mystery, movement, intelligence and wonder of the implicit order within the whole of being.

"I love the title 'Wonder Series' because I want it to feel expansive," she said. "The series reflects an abstract feeling and emotion versus a concrete reality. Some people say paintings are spiritual."

Attributing Paul Klee's "Memory of a Bird," 1932, and the colored patchwork of Sonya Delaunay's paintings as partial inspiration for this body of work, Sanders said her images are also reminiscent of Vija Celmins' starscapes. Making them her own, Sanders imbues her works with personal feelings about the mystery and unperceivable infiniteness of time and space. In the process, she evokes a collective memory of what is known and unknown about the immeasurable heavens.

"There is a feeling of the cosmos and the universe when looking at the series," she said. "I didn't purposefully try to do this. I always want to do realistic paintings and it never happens."

Sanders said the series is all about layers. A layer of white paper with dots, a gouache-colored layer and a layer of indigo watercolor all combine to create a seamless body.

"My paintings always end up being ethereal and bigger—the world and the cosmos," she said. "I go through frustrations in art. What I think I should be doing is not the end result."

"Wonder Series" includes more than 15 pieces of work created while she was traveling for extended periods of time. She travels with hard-cased golf club carriers, which she bought at the Goldmine in Ketchum for a tenth of the retail price. She can carry her paper, Arches and Japanese Shojo-shi paper, which she adores and is her preferred medium.

"The paper is getting rare and more valued," she said. "I dream of getting a commission to do a large wall piece."

Sanders graduated with honors from Brown University, with a double major in comparative literature, and art history and architecture. A producer of limited-edition artist books as well, Sanders' artwork has been exhibited and is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Getty Museum, the New York Public Library, Yale University and the Peter Norton Family Foundation, among others.

Sanders was born in Los Angeles, and lives and works between Ketchum and New York City. For details, call the Ochi Gallery at 726-8746 or visit

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