We were thrilled to have Brianna Dowd’s series, Mother Pearl, at the Griffin Museum! Read more to hear about the process and background to the beautiful work.
Tell us a little about your background.
I have an artistic background in photography and graphic design. My journey with photography started in the digital sphere, and in my undergraduate years of college I began to work with combining 19th century processes with digital technology (ie. cyanotype, van dyke). More recently, I have moved into, especially with my thesis work, exploring creating works of collage.
What made you want to focus on this topic for your thesis?
I’ve been working in themes of identity, memory, and loss since my undergraduate years at UNC Greensboro, and developed a series about my paternal grandfather while I was there. From then I knew I wanted to have a body of work that revolved around my father’s mother as well, but was very strategic about how to approach it carefully because there was so much I didn’t know about her but still felt a close connection. I spent much time gathering photos, hearing and documenting stories, even visiting where my father grew up to aid me as I worked on what is now “Mother Pearl”. My love and appreciation for family, history, and paying homage to those who came before us was a huge inspiration in me choosing to move forward with this being my thesis work, as well as my personal experience with connecting to those who are no longer with us.
Is there anything in particular that drew you to photography originally?
I would say nothing as far as a subject drew me to photography specifically, but more so the way photography has been and can be used. I grew up with parents who were wedding photographers, and to see them interact with couples and share in so many love stories helped me learn how important photography was with capturing important moments in life. My college journey specifically gave me a deeper love for photography, as I came to see the medium more than a means to record information and events, but one that can be used as a means to tell stories, express feelings, and encourage conversation.
Has there been a piece of contemporary art that has particularly engaged or moved you?
There are so many pieces I could choose from, but I would like to salute a body of work entitled Sugar Coat, by Christina Leslie who is based in Toronto, CA. Her entire series was emotionally and visually moving, and it serves as a means of education and dialogue about the truths around the history of sugar, slavery, and the Caribbean Diaspora. Her finished photographs were produced from sugar and presented to the viewer appropriated pieces of pro-slave literature, sugar ads, etc.
ABOUT BRIANNA DOWD
Brianna Dowd is an NC based artist whose background is in fine art photography and graphic design. She is a 2017 graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro obtaining a Bachelors of Fine Art degree, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Fine Art at the Savannah College of Art & Design.
Brianna is also the founder and CEO of Butterfly Visuals, LLC, a media company providing quality service to creative and goal oriented individuals in the areas of photography, graphic design, website design, promotional design, branding materials, social media content, and more.