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Traces Of Tomorrow

Maya Brezing | Artist | Dublin, Ireland

Without nature where would we find life? On a planet enclosed by towering construction and surrounded by constant destruction, we seem to notice the instant changes in our environment whilst the natural changes over time seem to go unnoticed. What was once the end result of people coming together with hard labour, money and valuable time is now an abandoned ruin of the past adopted by nature once more. In this feature article, we follow the exhibition led by the twenty-two-year-old artist from Dublin (originally Balbriggan), Maya Brezing who artistically compares the construction and destruction of society led by humans…but yet, always rescued by nature.

In her own words, Maya describes her exhibition “Traces of Tomorrow” as the following:

“The continuity of nature compared to the fast-paced production and destruction caused by humans has been the springboard for my current body of work. Taking inspiration from derelict, overgrown spaces around Dublin, I look at how nature constantly renews itself and reclaims spaces and buildings that have been abandoned.”

This body of work imagines a perhaps not-so-distant future, where there are only remnants of mankind and nature has taken over once more. While the man-made physical world will deteriorate, nature is constant. Found objects, that have outlived their purpose, play a role in my prints and assemblages. I admire the hand-made, therefore my work has an imperfect, tactile quality. My printed pieces layer the mechanical lines of screen printing with more loose, fluid lines from etching. These different processes manifest the man-made and organic forms in my work, intertwining imagery of rubble and ruins with the fragility of new growth.”

The exhibition’s message of nature being a constant force whilst the habitation of humans within society remains a temporary blip in existence is a message rarely found in the mind of an artist in the early stages of their career. Yet despite this rare occurrence, Maya discovers a way to combine a mature topic in a digestible yet bold way. Combining fabrics, metals and sheets of varying textures and materials in continually dangerous and equally brave decisions, the artist seems to produce breathtaking creations capturing a trace of what tomorrow can hold.

Maya’s exhibition has a personal feel. Obtained through the etch-work and print artistic approach to her exhibits but emphasizing the characteristics of her work is the paper on which they’re displayed upon. To capture her true idea Maya produced her own paper, which is quite suiting for her nature-driven exhibition. “I made my own paper for my degree show as I could make the exact colour I wanted and loved the natural rough edge it created.” Here we see a glimpse of the innovation Maya can lead that not only compliments her work but also leads a powerful narrative of being more conscious of the everyday changes we can make that help nature in its survival.

Scattered around her space, Maya decorated the exhibition area with the inspiration found for her pieces. The rubble remains from old ruins, now adopted once again by nature lie alone on the ground. Beside the ruins lie an old wooden step ladder splintered and battered ready to embrace the unification of nature once more. These scattered installation accessories convey the idea of humans and nature repeating the cycle over and over again. To be constructed and then eventually forgotten about, waiting for nature to adopt them once more only to be harvested and constructed by humans again and again.

This idea begs the question, of whether nature can ever truly “run out” or If we as a species can continuously harvest areas of their natural resources? Society grows and urban sprawl seems the only answer for the growing population, demanding more concrete barren wastelands at the expense for natural habitats to thrive…or survive. Does nature have the power to hold off against humans and our inevitable decision to destroy things in our path?

Soon after Maya’s graduation, we requested an interview with her to understand her inspiration, and her artistic approach and of course to discover the artist behind the art.

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My name is Maya Brezing. I’m 22 years old living and working in Dublin. I have just finished my degree in Fine Art Print at NCAD. My Graduate show entitled Traces of Tomorrow took inspiration from derelict, overgrown spaces around Dublin and looked at how nature constantly renews itself and reclaims spaces and buildings that have been abandoned. Outside of art I like cooking, charity shopping and repurposing old clothing. Right now I’m listening to a lot of the avalanches, beach house and blood orange. My go-to drink is an ice-cold ginger beer (with bitters and lime obviously) preferably from Luckys with a coke lane pizza.

The artist behind the art.

What does being an artist mean to you?

To me being an artist is about paying attention to minute details in your surroundings; noticing things in your everyday life that others might not. Finding beauty in the ordinary or objects that other people would discard. I love being playful with layering materials and textures. You have to be prepared to make things that you dislike to eventually create something that works.

What events led up to becoming an artist? 

I’ve been surrounded by art my whole life. My dad is an artist and my mam went to art college so I’m very lucky to have been brought to exhibitions and openings from a very young age. I’ve always been a maker and I think I always knew I wanted to go to art college. There wasn’t really another option in my mind. When I started NCAD I was quite confused on which route to take – I loved painting, drawing, sewing, and printmaking was also an exciting new technique for me. I eventually chose print because I loved learning all the different processes involved in it. Print is extremely broad and I knew I could intertwine my love for working with fabrics, paint and sculptural elements into it. My degree show was really my big break as an artist. I’m amazed at how much traction the show got and so grateful for the jumpstart it gave me into my career.

Where do you find inspiration?

l find a lot of inspiration in Dublin city and my home town Balbriggan. I often look out the window on my train ride to town and watch all the different clusters of urban landscape and the fringes in between. I’m very drawn to Derelict buildings. There’s an old burned down hotel not far from where I live that’s been sitting desolate for 15 years. I have explored it several times and it has been a big source of inspiration for my work. I find it fascinating how plants have completely taken over it. I collected old burnt receipts, postcards and other scraps from the hotel. Some of these found objects were featured in my prints and assemblages for my degree show.

Describe your artistic style.

My printed pieces layer delicate intricate lines with bold photographic imagery. I like using both processes of etching and screen printing to manifest the man-made and organic forms in my work. Found objects, that have outlived their purpose, play a role in my installations. I admire the hand-made, so my work has an imperfect, tactile quality. I made my own paper for my degree show as I could make the exact colour I wanted and loved the natural rough edge it created. I made it from recycled newsprint from the workshop to reduce my waste. I like to take my prints out of the frame and make them sculptural free-floating pieces that are part of a bigger installation as a whole.

Who / What influences you? 

Sally Mankus’ mixed media work has really influenced my recent work. She creates really interesting pieces with metal, fabric and gelatin sheets and uses a lot of layering. I think her installations are so well thought out, in particular, Ties That Bind 1996. Another artist that inspired me, that I got the privilege to interview, is Irish artist Fiona Kelly. Her work has similar themes to mine and uses imagery of nature and abandoned urban spaces. I love how her delicate prints become these large construction-like objects. In my interview with Fiona Kelly she told me that she loved using objects with a lived experience and that really stuck with me. Found objects bring a past and a story that something bought new can’t.

What do you aim for your audience to when experiencing your work?

 I would like my work to be a starting point for a larger conversation about how nature isn’t just something to be consumed and controlled but something we need to learn to coincide with. Traces of Tomorrow imagined a not-so-distant future where there are only remnants of mankind and nature has taken over once more. If humans keep causing this fast paced production and destruction it won’t be long before this happens. My work is also slightly hopeful in the fact that it shows that without human intervention, nature can thrive and return to the way it once was.

What do you aim for your audience to when experiencing your work?

I’m really grateful for the fact that I won first place in this year’s Black Church Print Studio graduate award. This means that I have a year long membership in the Black Church studio to learn from master printmakers and create my own work. I’m starting in September and I can’t wait to get stuck in! I’m hoping to start making a new body of work soon towards future exhibitions!

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