Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Brooke Grucella, I am an artist, curator, and Professor of Practice for the School of Art, University of Arizona. I primarily work in 2D and installation these days, however, occasionally I dabble in video and sculpture.
How did you get your start?
How did I get my start….as far as exhibiting…hmmmmm. Well once I graduated from the MFA program I began to search for galleries around the country that exhibited the same type of work I was doing. I got my start as a sort of New Brow, graffiti- influenced artist.
I started showing at a space called Wind-up in Mesa along with a wide arrange of Low Brow, New Brow, Graffiti, and Pop Surreal artists. I expanded out to Cella Gallery with my first solo show, shortly thereafter. Both spaces have since closed, but they gave me my first taste of working in commercial galleries.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by a lot of things, most of all pop culture and youth driven culture. There is a dash of nostalgia in my work, but it is obscured by the use of skate, surf, toy, comics, and cartoon imagery. Most of my figurative work revolves around my siblings coupled with the stories and communication of our relationships.
Right now I am fixated on abstracting comic book imagery into symbols that represent both the emotional and physical states of dealing with the trauma. Trauma or the disruption of the norm can happen any number of ways.
The next body of work is going to deal with the trauma of cancer. It has effected my family is quite a few ways so I am creating these “portraits” of family members’ cancer using comic book and surf/skate influenced imagery. It would sort of look like microscopic images of the cells, but think of garbage pail kid aesthetics.
My work is an investigation in memory and perception. The process of encoding, storing, and retrieving information as it is filtered through an amalgam of consumer and popular culture intrigues me.
My work focuses on how various forms of collective culture shape issues of sex, gender, politics, depression, fear, anger, love, loss and social strata. My own personal experiences and those of the people who immediately surround me influence the content of the images.
The work considers what develops when romantic, platonic, familial and social influences translate into various forms of recollection. The pieces are not nostalgic, but rather an exercise in distilling down memory into a mutation of commercialism. Figural, textual and decorative aesthetics are essential in the presentation of each piece. Products are signifiers of the events themselves; creating memory becomes a spin-off of the popular culture process.
What do you like about AZ?
I can remember the first time visiting Arizona before moving here. I thought it was bloody hot, but coming from Simi Valley, California, which is nestled in the Santa Susana Mountains, I thought the spaciousness of Arizona was amazing! The open space, the sunsets, and the monsoons are utter highlights for me. Plus living in Tucson I have the added perk of being in a sort of artsy liberal-ish small (feeling) community.
Where can we see you(r) work?
My work was recently up at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and will soon be in the Small Works Invitational at Davis Dominguez Gallery. I am working on getting my website up and running this summer and Foudai Projects in SF has some of my works in their inventory.
What would you like to accomplish before you die?
That is a BIG question. Honestly, I would love to be able to focus more on my studio work and travel across the country meeting people, learning new places, finding different inspirations and explore.
What is your mantra?
You can’t make red from orange. Meaning, you can’t go back and change what has already happened. All you can do is live, learn, and grow.