Briana Stanley

Briana Stanley is an artist from Carlsbad, California and this is the first online debut of her artwork. Through her work she has grown increasingly more thoughtful about the connections humanity has to nature. I sat down with Briana to chat about her latest art series that reflects on her journey with different mediums.

Devon: What first inspired you to create these pieces?

Briana: I have worked with foliage in my other pieces previously. In this new series, they are unique plants indigenous to different places that are significant to me and this period of my life. Some of them are from New Zealand, some are from Hawaii, and some from California—three main places that have informed my perspective for most of my life. These plants also represent our relationship with the earth and how in some ways we’ve done a good job of being stewards of the environment, but they’re also a reminder of how we haven’t fostered growth. Each of these plants demonstrates resilience; they can acclimate to other environments and thrive in different places as well. [As far as my process goes,] I first draw the piece and then transfer it to a screen to do screen printing. I use the screen print to place my drawing on the wood. I’m not traditionally trained as a printmaker, but what I do know I use as a tool in this series. For the first piece I left it just as the print, and then the next piece I added some other kind of medium to it since I really enjoy exploring what happens when I work with multiple media.

Devon: Why did you combine media in this series?

Briana: I’ll use the same print on all three but I’ll use different colors and techniques on the same image. That’s why, in a way, it’s a series but also a series variant, because each piece will be different. So on another I may carve into the wood, or draw on top of it, but usually I just do one other medium with it and then the third piece is where I’ll use multiple media. So I might carve, paint, and draw, so it’s kind of like each piece is another level of investigation into that particular plant form.

Devon: What made you think of using these kinds of media to create this kind of work?

Briana: The foundation of my work is from my past. I started working on it because my dad had certain furniture projects going on, so there was always wood around. [I made my] first piece ever [when] I was five or six and it was on wood. It’s still hanging up at our house. And I love that you can do things to add to the nature of it with other media, but you can also carve away and be subtractive. Even though my carving is pretty superficial, it still has more of a sculptural quality than a typical painting would. Carving is also significant, in that it’s kind of a parallel with our own relationship with nature: we can be in grain with it, going alongside it, or we can dig into it. Wood is a natural resource so it adds that commentary to it as well, but in an ironic way.

Devon: What kind of advice or tools would you suggest for someone who is struck by your pieces, or for a creative mind in general?

Briana: I think I’ve found it’s helpful to just do it. As creative thinkers, we can get stuck in this perpetual idea cycle—when we have these ideas or aspirations of what we want to do but we don’t actually do it.

Even if you’re not sure of how it’s going to look, just do it. That’s advice for myself too. The show I have in November, I didn’t know I would have it before making this work, but now I have some pieces to exhibit. If you’re always creating work, then you will always be ready when an opportunity comes along. [Even] if you don’t have somewhere to show it, it’s very therapeutic, and it’s almost better, to make work that doesn’t necessarily fill a quota. It becomes more true to you.

Devon: What, ideally, do you hope people will take away from your first series?

Briana: One of my biggest hopes would be that people could see a parallel between our involvement with the environment and these plant forms we see every day. I also want people to recognize that something doesn’t have to be over the top [to be valuable]–it can be simple and not overcrowded, like these paintings. It can be quiet and subtle. That’s also why our environment can be overlooked too, because we don’t necessarily notice it at first.

Briana Stanley is currently residing in Santa Barbara, CA. She has a BA in Art and is starting a Masters program soon. She has just debuted her first solo show in Santa Barbara at Christ Presbyterian Church. To reach Briana or contact her about her work, follow her on Instagram @drink_tea or email Whilst Magazine for more information.