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Artist Statement: Reena Brooks

Moral Compass: Artists Respond to Crises

Temple Judea Museum exhibition January – March 2021

My work doesn’t have a strong political message to convey or even an abstract meaning. I make my art because I need to. I need the interaction with my different materials. I need to investigate new techniques or new mediums.  I need to explore and investigate, and I need to play. 

My artwork is part research, part exploration, and part play. When I get in the “zone” I work furiously on many pieces at once, rotating them around my studio, reacting, ripping & cutting, painting, printing, stitching and layering. My art tends to tell me what it needs, and I give it what it needs, sometimes searching for that special piece of paper to collage or stencil or texture.

Every piece I produce is a collection of my experiences. I utilize ephemera from many source – my school days, the 1950s, vintage LIFE magazines, & old books. I recycle, up-cycle, and utilize the vintage and the forgotten, the cast-away and the unimportant. It’s all present under the layers. My artworks for this exhibition reflect how our morals may be tested or questioned.

Reena Brooks

Masking Our Innocent 

Media: Textile collage embroidered on a linen napkin. 

The fact that we live in a world now where our innocent children must wear a mask, some not even fully understanding why, except they know to protect from unseen “gwerms’ as my friend’s 4-year-old calls them. The photograph that inspired this portrait spoke to me. The expression in her eyes tells the story, so innocent. The colorful circles behind her reflect a childhood of fun and play. What will these children remember of this time? How will this carry them into the future?

Keeping It All Together

Media: Sculptural textile collage

We question our moral compass by wanting to do and live our normal lives despite being confined and restricted. We find ourselves playing different roles or dealing with the stresses of the news, death tolls, or un-warranted violence. All these may make us feel like we are coming apart at the seams, or on the verge of exploding. We have to realize we are all in this together and must support each other and stand together. We are bits and scraps of our former selves and holding on any which way we can, some better than others. The detail of the hinge sums up what this piece is all about.