Borough Gallery: What the fuck is that bull’s head with the spider eyes!  It freaks me out.  I feel caught in its multi-eyed stare, like I’m about to have my innards sucked out by this placid animal.  How did that monster burgeon from your mind?

Eleanor Brennesholtz: The bulls head was a combination of a few ideas. I wanted to make something that was threatening and easy to understand, but also nod to the surreal. He (the bull) actually started out with the right number of eyes, he ended with a few extra. As a child I remember accidentally spending time in a barn with an angry bull thrashing and complaining about his lot in life. I had never been so scared and threatened by an animal, and I was a kid who grew up in barns. That bull may as well have had multi faceted eyes and a forked tail, at the time is was going to suck my innards out. Emerging unscathed from that barn was an exhilarating moment, I could live forever.

Eleanor Brennesholtz's studio.

BG: Whoa.  I know what you mean, those situations where you think, “This is it.  I’m about to die.”  Then half way through making peace with existence the danger suddenly passes.  In general, people seem surprised when I tell them such stories, like they’ve never been through such a harrowing ordeal.  But I think everyone must have such experiences, unless they like life under a rock, they just put them out of mind.  Is mortality a driving force when making your work?

EB: The most interesting and exciting part of any given day is when you realize that even though you are going about your day normally ( and without any extreme sports) you almost just died. And this is something you can think at any moment and it’s always true. Life is risky; buildings burn down, bridges fail, drunk people drive and desperate people hold up liquor stores. Humans are a strange species with all this emotion and tradition, protecting death like a priceless piece of art. Immortality is boring and consequence free. Fear of death and tradition keep humankind desperate for answers.

On the flip side of that dark and nasty coin is the beauty of the planet and how humans use the natural world to explain and essentially treat the affliction of life. The entrails are loosely associated with empty organ sacs after the organ part of the meat has been removed and now there is nothing inside. Organ sacs are dried, stretched, stuffed, eaten, painted on, chopped up and salted. Nothing goes to waste, life continues.

Eagles Fly

BG: Does “using everything” also apply to your art?  Whether that’s taking scraps from life or your own floor.  Do you find yourself sometimes more interested in incidental parts of an artwork, rather than the main subject you started with?

EB: I don’t so much “use everything” as I tend to use carefully chosen weird things. I pass up materials everyday, but hold on to some for years before I use them. I like old forgotten things, and children’s images from past generations. Many of the basic images I used in these pieces are inspired by two coloring books I bought at a tag sale. They were printed in the mid 50’s and nowadays are antiquated and dull. But the simplicity of the images as well as the subversive application of them really appealed to me.

I rarely begin with a main subject, usually it is at least two images or an image and a material together that kick starts a work.  The sculpture really is about process and seeing what can be done with a material. More often than not a fiber piece is forgotten for long periods of time before I pick it up again and either finish it or dismantle it.  These pieces are little bursts of inspiration and work that I essentially rediscover and use as complete objects. The rediscovery is always exciting, like thrift shopping in your own studio.

Seringe

BG: A sagely hermit comes from the woods and says, “I’ve placed the wisdom of ages in this cup,” then hands it to you.  There is a slimy liquid glowing green in the mossy bowl she’s given you.  What do you do?

EB: My mother always said that you should smile and thank someone when they give you a gift. She also says that you can get rid of it as soon as their back is turned.

Where is the fun in posessing the “wisdom of ages?” Life would be meaningless.

Don’t forget Borough is open today 5-8, tomorrow 10-7 and Sunday 10-5.  Come see Eleanor Brennesholtz and the rest of the show “Entropic Restructed,” because after this weekend it’s all scattering to other galleries, restaurants and living rooms.