Céline Browning is an artist, art writer and educator currently based in Louisville, Kentucky where she is an Assistant Professor at the Kentucky College of Art and Design. She was born and raised in Chicago to a family of new media artists and activists whose work addresses a range of topics connected with social justice. Open engagement with social and political issues is a consistent part of her approach to creating meaningful works of art, and her studio work is specifically engaged in an active exploration of power dynamics in American culture. Many of her recent projects are moored in a sense of local history, using objects and symbols as portraits of communities.
I have a deep fascination with the diaristic capacity of everyday items; even the most mundane things have the ability to reveal truths about the social systems of which they are a product. In this way, banal objects such as clothing from a thrift store, children’s toys, and national flags can be seen as keys to our collective psyche; they contain the story of our past mistakes, our current woes, and our hopes for the future.
Through my work, I investigate the complexity of American identity in the 21st century, and how that identity is made manifest through visual language. Like many symbols, those associated with American identity are both sacred and profane in nature. As a sacred object, the American flag is used to cover the caskets of fallen soldiers, but as a profane image it is used as a print for bikinis, bumper stickers, even toilet paper. A gun can be associated with the founding of the United States and the sacred duty of police officers to protect their community; yet this symbol is also fraught, bearing with it a history of institutional violence and brutal subjugation. While visual symbols are often imagined to be immutable, they are in fact shifting signifiers whose meaning changes according to context, and how one interprets these symbols is often used as a way to delineate between social groups. Besides being reductive and potentially dangerous, this method of categorization can show the extreme limitation of these American icons. Complex ideas, emotions, and histories deserve complex symbols. Using the vocabulary of surrealism and pop-art, I deconstruct, combine, and repurpose this American visual shorthand, creating objects which seem frozen in transition, caught between contradictory states of being. By destroying, investigating, and ultimately rebuilding common symbols associated with American identity, I aim to question the relationship between signifier and signified, image and object, sacred and profane.
August 21, 2020
A Stay-in-Place resident’s start of the day- photo courtesy of Celine Browning
August 23, 2020
Hi there! This is Celine Browning – one of current artists in residence with Good Hart. This weekend I’ve been setting up a new studio. Having a studio wall packed with artwork, show announcements, quotes and bric-a-brac always helps me feel more at home.
August 26, 2020
This is Celine Browning again! During my residency, I’ve been taking my morning coffee to my drawing table. For 1-2 hours, I draw the same clear plastic bag. These observational drawings are overlapping, and will eventually fill the entire sheet of paper. Excited to share the finished product once it’s done!
August 28, 2020
This is Celine Browning again! One of the projects I’ve been focused on this week is a new body of work titled “American Shadows.” For this project, I’ve been creating and documenting a series of hand shadows tied to a specific theme. Here’s a sneak peek.
September 1, 2020 – Virtual Coffee @ 10 with Céline Browning and Jonathan Korotko
September 3, 2020
This is Celine Browning again! I’m currently investigating a scale shift in my studio. From sketch, to five foot vinyl cut out.