Bisbee artist Brenna Curry on steel, heels and spitting (the latter is David Bowie’s fault). By Kaleigh Shufeldt. Photos courtesy of Brenna Curry.
Early bird or night owl? “Definitely a night owl. My dad was a night owl, my mom was a night owl. It is just easier. It’s quiet. I don’t get bothered by people or phone calls. I’ve always been nocturnal. When the sun comes up, I don’t like that. I feel like a vampire. The sun is fine, but I am not a morning person.”
Favorite accessory? “Tools. I use power tools – and in particular a Dremel rotary tool – to etch into the metal I work with, to give it layers and depth. I first started using it a long time ago; I just recently started using it with my art. I use it to burnish the metal.
“Stainless steel is a very hard metal to work with, and most metal artists do not work with stainless. I was hand sanding it, and [the pieces] are beautiful hand sanded but I needed a little bit more power. Someone introduced me to this little air tool disk, so I drilled a hole and cut the back off this little disk and put it on the back of my little Dremel.
“Metal just came along. I am a professional photographer by trade and I was in California and I accidentally got my camera wet. I had to wait until I could find a camera and I needed to feed my soul and I had this metal laying around. I came home from work and I squeezed some paint on it, squeezed some water and some oil. I came back a couple weeks later and I thought ‘Wow, this is cool. I might be able to do something with this.’ So there it began.”
Favorite faux pas? “Spitting. It’s bad, but if I have to spit, I’m going to spit. I won’t spit on people’s sidewalk. David Bowie said ‘You gotta love a woman that could hock a good loogie.’ What do I do a lot? I spit.”
Who is your dream customer? “The dream customer is the little girl who came in and spent about an hour with her mom talking about art and the next day she came in with her birthday money and bought one of those bottle clusters that I make. And she already knew she was going to put her beach glass in the bottle. Those are the favorite customers. That will be part of her for many years and could quite possibly be part of who she becomes. That simple moment, you can touch other people’s lives.”
If I weren’t an artist I would… “I already did all of it. I was never really a dreamer, I was more of a doer. I was a professional photographer by trade. I went to school for commercial photography. I was also a makeup artist and a graphic artist. I did head shots, I did model portfolios, I took shots of every golf course in the state. I was also a stagehand. But this is what I would be. This is it.
“I knew I would be a photographer when I was very young. I knew I was going to be an artist, period. If I wasn’t an artist I would be crazy. Art is the guarantee of sanity.”
If I could change one thing I would… “I would change my feet, because my feet hurt. I would change my shoes. Bisbee is a challenge; you don’t get to go shopping too much. I am on my feet all the time. I haven’t found the perfect shoes yet. I have been searching though. I am a vixen metal artist and vixens have to wear heels. It’s an image.”
* Brenna Curry runs Vixen Fine Art Metal Gallery at 42 Main Street, Bisbee, Arizona. She recently received the 2013 Buffalo Exchange Visual Arts Award for her painted stainless steel and creations of woven metal. For more on Buffalo Exchange, see our feature in this issue.