Carol Bruns (b. Des Moines, Iowa 1943) is an artist living in Brooklyn, New York, working in sculpture and drawing. She graduated NYU 1966 in Fine Arts, then attended the Art Students League, NYC and l'Academie de La Grande Chaumiere, Paris. She first exhibited in 1975 at OK Harris Gallery showing wall works made from found supports cloaked with cloth and thin, colored plaster. In 1980 she was guest artist at the Caraccio Etching Studio, Orion Editions published her prints, and in 2002 she received a printmaking fellowship at the Women's Studio Workshop. From 2000-2006 she was in four two-person exhibitions at the Tew Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia. Group exhibitions continued throughout this time as well as community organizing (Dumbo Open Studios), curating (Persona, A New Look at Portraits 1997; Festival of Political Pleasure 2017), publishing artist's books (Pages, with Robert Jacks), and stage décor (Bellerophon Dance Company). In 2013 she was interviewed by Gorky's Granddaughter, and in 2019 received a Tree of Life grant and an
Artists' Fellowship grant. Her most recent exhibitions were at The Parlour Bushwick in 2015, Sculpture Space in Long Island City, SRO Gallery in Brooklyn in 2017-18, Zurcher Gallery 2022 and 2023 a solo at White Columns, NYC. Ms. Bruns also writes art essays and reviews exhibitions, two most recently published in d'Art International and artcritical.com.
My figurative sculptures inquire into the human condition. Breton wrote in 1930 "that there exists a certain point of the mind at which life and death, the real and the imagined, past and future, the communicable and the incommunicable, high and low, cease to be perceived as contradictions. ..." The surrealists searched to find and fix this point. My experience of this contradictory level in the human mind is the mythic, a type of consciousness where divergent potentials of the human can be encompassed within a single image or figure. An ancient example is the figure of Janus, a god who faces opposite directions yet is a single being, both life-giving and death-dealing. I utilize this theme to give unreason, the irrational, even the bestial its due, not as approval but to acknowledge its part in the forces that bring culture into existence and sustain it. It establishes a practical relationship to the catastrophic violence of our times, for the enemy is always part of ourselves.
Dubuffet coined the term Art Brut for his inspiration in art unscathed by artistic culture such as that of the common man, the insane, and children. My inspiration is similar but has more to do with the vernacular language of folk art and the aesthetic intensity and emotional directness of some pre-modern art such as medieval stone carving and some tribal African sculpture.
Modernist sculpture became homeless, but one advantage is the possibility of incorporating spontaneity into its process. Since it isn't commissioned for a particular site and purpose, it can focus on other meanings, new materials, and methods of construction. I improvise life-sized human figures from common materials by assemblage. Its outsider vocabulary enlists bitumen, chalk, ash and dirt, teeth, and hemp as well as paper, bamboo, and plaster.