Opposites attract

Mixed media artist combines opposing forces

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Eileen Braziel says she became an artist because her father was a science professor.

When she was 6, her dad brought home a chalkboard that covered the entire wall in her bedroom.

"I lived on that chalkboard," Braziel said. "I would do math equations and I would draw on it. It inspired me way back when -- the whole idea of the chalkboard being an art form in itself."

For the past 15 years, Braziel has incorporated chalkboards into her mixed media artwork. Much of her art is based on opposing concepts.

"In a lot of philosophies, putting opposites together makes art timeless and not static," Braziel said. "That's kind of the secret of it, but the hardest part is finding out what your opposites are, because we like to hide them."

Braziel's father was a chemist, and her mother was a quilt maker.

"I always associated my mother as the artist who was always stitching things together, while my father reduces things and takes things apart," Braziel said. "But now, with the process I go through, I realize they are very similar."

Eighteen years ago, Braziel became the first abstract artist to have a show at the Depot Art Center. She also started the art program at Colorado Mountain College and taught classes in painting, drawing and art history. She now is the director of the Klaudia Marr Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M.

Braziel returns to Steam--boat Springs this weekend to hang some of her new work in Studio Gallery 27. They are paintings that have developed into minimal wall sculptures.

"It is really common for painters to dabble into sculpture. I find mixed media to be my sculptural medium," Braziel said. "Even though they are on the wall, they can be very thick on the wall, up to 6 inches thick."

She oscillates between the two worlds of painting and sculpture.

"My work swings between the process and concept and then into painting, where it takes attention so much more from detail and that illusion on a flat surface," Braziel said. "Then I just go back and forth in those worlds."

While studying under a Buddhist professor from Japan in a contemporary art issue class at California State University, Braziel was influenced by the Japanese philosophy of "Wabi Sabi."

"It is like a Japanese term for yin and yang. My incorporating two opposite worlds is very similar," Braziel said. "Anyone who combines opposites within themselves is practicing Wabi Sabi."

Braziel enjoys teaching art as much as creating it because she thinks you can figure out a lot about a person by the way he or she paints and draws.

"It brings out who that person really is, which is not easy because a lot of conventional things get in the way," Braziel said.

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