by Brie Burrell ’21 (she/her/hers)

I created these two pieces as part of a short series for my Drawing 101 class in the spring of 2020. The pandemic had hit earlier that semester, resulting in my departure from campus. I had a lot of emotions that I was having trouble expressing. I felt that my outward expression towards leaving campus without completing my freshman year did not properly represent what I felt on the inside. These two pieces are meant to embody that juxtaposition. 

The first part of this series features an array of colors created with watercolor and colored pencils. Although the expression of the figure is content and surrounded by “happy” colors, they are almost clouded or overwhelmed by them. 

pt.2″ 6.5’x13′ watercolor, graphite, ink, courtesy of Brie Burrell ‘23

The second part of the series displays a larger figure created with a variety of sporadic and continuous marks using India ink. Inside the figure, ghost-like figures created with graphite are caged. 

Both of these pieces were created from places of uncertainty and sadness, two expressions that I often have trouble coping with. The first part of the series came out completely different than I had anticipated, and there was one point where I considered abandoning the piece completely. It was not until I let go of the pressure I put on myself to make the piece look a certain way and just expressed myself that I found resolution. Both the process and the piece itself are evidence of the juxtaposition that I was experiencing at the time. The pressure I put on my pieces to look a certain way was a direct reflection of the pressure I felt that led me to hide my emotions. Working to resolve my piece was essential in coping with my emotions. 

My relationship with art that both I and others create is constantly evolving. The pandemic, as well as many of the issues surrounding police brutality and oppression, have sparked a period of growth and exploration within multiple dimensions of my life. I find myself wanting to create and share my art more often. I’ve learned that inviting others to view my pieces is a crucial part of the artistic process. Others often interpret my work in ways that I had never considered, or give me helpful insights into ways to further resolve certain aspects of my work. In the past, I have been very reserved and insecure when it comes to publicizing my work or reaching out to others to collaborate. I am my own worst critic, but I am glad that my own perception of my work is changing and that my confidence is growing. 

Since these pieces, I have partnered with Marquia Humphries ‘22 and Davidson Athletics to design a shirt that promotes messages of accountability and equity here at Davidson. In the future, I hope to continue to use art as a platform to encourage conversation and speak to my perspective as a woman of color in a primarily white space. 

Brie Burrell ‘23 (she/her) is a prospective Psychology major and Studio Art minor from Ocala, FL. She can be reached for comment at brburrell@davidson.edu