The Anti-Politcal Politico: Lynn Brofsky
December 7, 2009 · Updated 9:34 AM
Thoughts on politics in art with the soft-spoken Bainbridge Island printmaker.
Lynn Brofsky isn’t one to push her politics on other people.
Despite the social and personal political thread linking much of her work, she’s a very quiet politico. And despite the fact that she’s currently featured in an art-of-the-American-printmaker countrywide group show titled “Politics in Print,” in Colorado, and that her first solo exhibit this month at the Roby King exudes political thoughts on the state of industrial America, she’s doesn’t want this article to be about politics.
“At the risk of deadening the impact for the viewers, I don’t want to go too far into that,” the Bainbridge Island graphic designer/printmaker said. “There’s very strong and sometimes acerbic pieces to what I’m putting together ... which are not always apparent in the final outcome. I don’t want to overshadow the work by going to deep into those.”
While she understands the importance of an artist giving their view on the socio- or political climate around them, she’d rather people just enjoy the content for what it is: the girl trapped behind a cluster of barriers atop the backdrop of an old Conoco gas station in “Politics in Print;” the enormous, three-panel, three-car-carrying train engine which fills an entire wall to anchor the “Road Trip” show at the Roby King.
The distressed and disappointed-looking female figure, gazing upward overlaying a dark blue hammerhead oil derrick. Two even darker blue figures standing sorrowfully in back of a stark red, orange pick-up truck. The lonely, lost female figure shielding herself from the sun on a deserted “Long Highway.” That same girl (in another print) shielding herself from the airborne toxins of a distant, dark brown oil refinery in “Oil and Water.”
I kept coming back to the “Furtive Rig” — the distressed and disappointed girl gazing contemplatively out from the hammerhead oil rig.
That girl is one of a handful of fictional female figures which Brofsky uses different prints of, throughout the show, as the symbolic witnesses to the American industrial landscape.
I felt some sort of connection to this figure in “Furtive Rig,” whether it was attraction to the well-sculpted artistic portrait, or to the subject matter of the hammerhead rig, or to the sense of dissent in the figure’s straight-lipped, squinting face.
I found myself searching for hope somewhere in the gaze or the face or somewhere in the layers of Brofsky’s monotype, but found an overwhelming sense of melancholy.
I asked when I interviewed her later if that was me bringing my own feelings to the show, or if that’s what she’d felt when she created it. She said there was definitely a lot of that in there, but added “some of it is love, some of it is absolute love.”
Like the “Field and Forest” series — three different pieces featuring an unassuming old blue work truck as the backdrop to figures and other elements.
“That started with that incredible truck,” Brofsky said. “I don’t know if it came off as incredible, but it was to me ... it was big and purposeful and industrial, yet every aspect of it was customized for this man.”
It was an old logger’s truck, a piece of the American industrial landscape, which happened to come into Brofsky’s Bainbridge Island yard one day.
“He wasn’t an artist, but believe me, this truck was a piece of art,” Brofsky noted. “There’s a huge love for those kind of elements because they are so beautiful. Even in the ‘Oil and Water’ piece, that oil refinery in the background was just so ominous, but still, somehow beautiful ... they’re sculptural, yet now they’re so menacing, and sucking the life out of the planet....
“But again, I don’t want to damage the experience of the work by overshadowing it too much with politics,” she quickly added.
Brofsky wants viewers to enjoy the exhibit for what it is worth, regardless of political perspectives. This, being her first solo show at the Roby King and second solo show in her entire career, is the artistâ€™s first chance to create an environment that will let people experience and hopefully understand a little piece of herself and what she is trying to communicate through her art.
“I don’t want to estrange anyone, I want people to discuss it and find commonality within it,” she said.
Find more of Lynn Brofsky’s work at www.lynnbrofsky.com, and also check out her solo show at the newly remodeled Roby King Galleries, 176 Winlsow Way on Bainbridge, www.robykinggalleries.com. Also check out her entries in the “American Print: Politics in Print” show at the Foot Hills Art Center at www.foothillsartcenter.org.