bio ( obi -tuary )
If it is true that when one writes "he enters his own death", then what becomes of the author when he details his or her own life? As though in the moment when he ushers his bio into public scrutiny he will not have lived on in you in your reading? Assuming anyone really cares about the artist's bio, a trend now present on many visual artists' websites, shouldn't the bio come replete with rich imagery, as opposed to drawn-out, "dry media," black and white and prosaic prose --- his media-mosaic musings amusing -- laid letter by letter, tile by tile until his sentences' syntax results in arabesque analysis of that dead thing transfigured? I'd rather write my own obituary for you, and I have (See Effigesis), so as to secure the fact that the spirits of the dead influence the nature of things.
Harnett County native, Brandon Heath Tart was born October 26th, 1977 to his Harnett born mother and father, Rodney and Nancy Tart. At an early age, Brandon had begun to demonstrate a preternatural understanding of visual communication. He spent his spare time mimicking what he observed here and there in the fashion of Platonisim’s account of visual art, rendering faux inner stellar flights akin to George Lucas’ globally adored “Star Wars” films, by emptying his childlike imagination onto a 2 dimensional void of sorts – crayons on paper. His earliest predilections thus pertained to his adult dream-job, becoming an astronaut, and were thereby aimed toward the stars. Inspired by NASA’s manned missions into the cosmos, Brandon’s work followed in tow. Today, Tart recollects once musing on this adolescent interest in one of the Lillington Presbyterian Church’s Sunday school rooms, where he drew a portrayal of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s tragic explosion in January of 1986. To his knowledge, this is the first account of his observance of the human condition as the source for his artistry, as well as the first known account for his perception that recounting history via visual art is of great importance.
For many years following the tragic fall of NASA’s Challenger mission, upon which school teacher, Sharon Christa Corrigan McAuliffe died, Tart did not stop imagining his future as one venturing into the celestials to explore what lied beyond the mundane. Irony, it should seem, no doubt finds its way into the lives of us all, yet for Brandon, his passion for art, travel and the exploration of space have now brought him full circle into the universe of public art education. Tart, now a licensed Master’s level educator in North Carolina, draws on many forms of media, though still, he draws upon the memory of his youthful dreams to cradle the cosmos, capture its call, recreate its ordered chaos and compel his community to look farther, deeper, wider and more often at what (in the blink of an eye) passes away from all – life’s many dreams deferred – to draw attention to the human condition.
At age 8, in the summer of 1985, Brandon’s father drew him into early adult life by taking him to Dunn, Coats, Erwin, Angier, Bunnlevel and here and there around his hometown, Lillington, to mow grass, clean lawns and gardens. Until the time Brandon turned 14, his spring, summer and autumn days were spent daydreaming of a place above the grounds he manicured on a 1970’s model Cub Cadet lawn mower. It was at that same time when his father urged him to consider pursuing architecture, for concern that Brandon’s inclinations to fine art might result in the same historic struggles as many other artists. For fear of starving, at age 14 Brandon grew pursuant a more pragmatic approach to art & design, and considered his father’s words to be reasonable, thus reconsidering his creative direction from above, to below.
4 years then passed, and upon graduating from Harnett Central High School in 1996, Brandon was accepted to attend at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. With a growing lawn maintenance and landscaping business developing at home in Lillington, he decided to continue working therein. By the year 2000, Brandon began to seek answers to many questions, which (from a childhood spent working outdoors over summers and after school during the fall and spring) the natural world impressed upon him. He understood that the burden of proof for what he’d long witnessed in the earth, atop blades of grass, and the wildlife he was privy to observing, was something beyond what observation and tested hypotheses alone could offer. Brandon came to note that patterns often unfolded before his eyes in various places from season to season, which reminded him of the sense impressions he experienced at times he performed constructions with a compass and square.
Urged by curiosity to look beyond seed-to-seedling, root to thorny stem – the flower blooms, withers, dies – the need for meaning behind life’s processes led him to enroll in Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, through which he came to stand beyond his life of landscaping in Lillington upon the cobblestone streets of Prague in the Czech Republic. As he crossed the Charles Bridge in Prague, its ornate figurative sculptures planted a seed of wonder about what at age 14 he decided to quit – creating visual art. When Brandon returned stateside, his wonder grew to reflect his young roots of elementary artistry, and yet another pattern presented a plan he’d forgotten too soon – “everything is by design”.
At age 25, Brandon was in repose in the privacy of his Wake Forest, NC apartment. While reflecting on his time abroad, he made space at his drafting table and reached for his compass, square, French curve and other tools he’d used for landscape design; as though he were 14 again, he returned to the drawing board. Immediately, through the imagery he began to develop, the answers he was searching for were revealed to him in the patterns he discovered between the geometry atop his drafting table, his theological studies and the natural world he’d spent 18 years working in. Empowered by those sudden visages’ order, the apparent chaos of nature melted away like ice. At 26, Brandon enrolled once again in East Carolina University, School of Art & Design where he concentrated in sculpture, and earned his Bachelor of Fine Art degree.
When Brandon graduated from East Carolina University, School of Art & Design in December of 2007, he moved abroad to Tallinn, Estonia, where he soon began working as a bronze foundry artist repairing figurative sculpture, creating wax patterns for the bronze casting process, making plaster molds for large public monuments – and sweeping floors, shoveling trash and earning a migrant’s wages – roughly 600 U.S. dollars per month.
In 2009, Tart returned to Lillington and taught visual art for 3 semesters at Western Harnett High School. In 2010, he resigned from Harnett County Schools to accept an invitation to participate in a stone-carving symposium on the Estonian island named, Saaremaa. Early in 2011, Brandon returned to his loved North Carolina deeply inspired by the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian use of public art to commemorate their treasured historic figures, and “The Baltic Way” to gain their collective independence from Russian occupation of their countries.
“It was at this point in my creative life,” Tart says, “where human liberty and the cost to keep it inspired my interest in how America earned its independence. I imagined the logistical difficultly of so many different men and women of different nationalities and tongues coming together in unity to subdue a political giant to be a true human triumph over tyranny, and the self. Our nation’s Revolutionary War was, like The Baltic Way, comprised of men and women of different nationalities and races unified over one cause: liberty. I view our nation’s independence as poetic; though riddled with its very own logistical hardships, which today, we can hardly imagine being overcome without a phone at the very least – and yet, we succeeded in seceding from the crown.”
Subsequent to his final return to North Carolina, Tart earned his Master’s degree in Art Education from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Brandon Heath Tart is now a NC sculptor, and public school teacher for Cumberland County Schools (Bio written in 2017). Addendum -- as of October of 2018, Tart returned to where he first began teaching: Western Harnett High School.
Brandon’s 2 and 3D artwork is inspired by psychology, social theory, linguistics, critical theory and theology. Artists and designers such as Salvador Dali, Ludwig Mies Van de Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Donald Judd, the Bauhuas Design School et al, inform his design direction physically, yet Tart describes his process as “literary first –
“…the form I extend to patrons arrives from a precedent narrative…”, and he favors letting the intension dictate the style of the form. Rather than fitting his immediate design tastes to forge a product-line, Brandon goes on to state that –
”My logo design consists of every letter in my full name with a square above a compass’ circumscription, and my brand is my name on the object that I believe in; not just because I made it to look similar to all of my other designs so that people say, “…that is definitely a Brandon Heath Tart sculpture…” I believe in making art that people love to look at and spend time with. It’s like the cover of a book. Similarly, I believe people put a book down when it doesn’t have a title that marries the body of the narrative, and if it lacks a narrative – how can you read it – which is to say, how can you interpret it? But if people just admire the form, that’s theirs to do with my art, yet I give titles to my books, so to speak, so that patrons can trace the form back to the narratives they’re predicated upon, and their logos.”
Nature as the Artist
It is nature that is the alchemist, not the artist, though I am certain that we are, too, nature in one of her many garments. While that is so, it is nature that transforms lead into gold. And although I am part of her many visages, I know that I will never have that literal claim: said, alchemical power of Mother Nature. I can humbly say, however, that with all of the lead that is present, as base an element as it is, that I can transform lead into a shield! YES, as a creative mind, I say once and for all, that such is my duty to my fellow humans. Granted only what nature provides me with, even my body, gaunt as it may be, I have been afforded the power by Nature to transmutate what is mundane.
As the Sun's X-Rays penetrate the forests' many canopies, I see Mother Nature’s just attempt to shelter me in the glorious wood. I then cry out to her: "See what you have given me, Mother; I will emulate your form, contemplate beauty, reify its idea, not by turning lead into gold, but by transforming your first green where two roads diverge, into both roads taken, for experience alone – shelter.
Letter To The Artist
I must say that your words are as cold as your name. Life has presented each of us with choices, but why play to its hand? Nature is a path – the only path in fact. I came to that lowly state in the wood where your words kept me frozen for years where two roads diverged. It was then when I realized both roads have no doubt been traveled, and neither is lesser than the other. The Frost had settled over me, and in it its cold dichotomy I saw a ray of light transform into the separated spectrum, as it beamed through the ice draping from the smallest branch in a tree. I then recalled my role, and painted a new wood, a more glorious wood – a better metaphor for making such split decisions in life, and thereby, made my home by its truth, less your illusion. You see, when two roads diverge in a wood, Robert – just cut down all the trees!
What an amazing life art has offered me! In only a short time of my life I have traveled the world, lived and worked in foreign lands, slept for weeks in a tent in frigid weather on an island in the Baltic Sea, and carved stone thereon as I watched snails the size of apples pass me by on giant blades of grass! In that chapter I wrote extensively of my experiences in an attempt to do justice to the imagery of my travels. The truth was stranger than fiction: its details were too rich for mere rote accounts of the time. Surreal!
I’ve been lost in cities so old that the cobblestone streets had perfected percussive arts prior to my arrival; their plethora of patterns as elegant as the granite geometry my gaunt frame walked upon. Students later became the canvasses for my spinning color wheels to take them with me there in our minds, by harnessing the power of the elements of design in seasoned cycles of gained artistic inertia, and elegant creative momentum.
I then swam far into waters touched by Russian and Finnish soils, between which, I could hear human voices launched like rockets into the night sky from two countries and tongues simultaneously. Even there, I shared the company of complete strangers in foreign independence celebrations, as I listened and learned the tongues of acceptance of the Other, all of which I have art to thank, and Logos, the scripter-sculptor, painter and poet for this gift to both reflect, and reflect upon.
Of all of these predestined illustrations, I have fond memories of thinking, writing, drawing, painting, sculpting and wading into unknown waters' wondrous walks of life. Life alone has been school to me, and in every sense, has produced a mind filled with degrees of experience impossible to express in plain speech: a comedy of errors, seemingly random, no perceivable style to the disorderly order of a vivid life unforeseen.
Art has been neither an escape, nor a retreat: but rather, the recourse, the reason – a reigning realism. I find that I am forever at an impasse, though always ready to sail away to see the immensely colorful canvas of stone, wood, water, fire and sky ahead of me. Such is the case with both time, and space.
And where to now – the Southern Cross? Destinations have never been reached by my design. Such is the case with all things predestined, so patience is my paint for now: life but an endless stone, which endlessly carves itself – "my self".
"a BOUT" - the ARTIST BIObituary: Humor Added as a Preservative
1.a contest or trial of strength, as of boxing, often leading to death
2.period; session; spell: a bout of illness, often leading to death
3.a turn at work or any action, which can lead to death
4.a going and returning across a field, as in mowing or reaping, or being reaped - i.e... dying
1. of; concerning; in regard to: a brief description of something - a biography or artist bio: an obitiuary
2. connected or associated with: There was an air of mystery about him.
3. near; close to: a man about my height; about six o'clock.
4. in or somewhere near: He is about the house.
5. on every side of; around: the railing about the excavation.
6. on or near (one's person): They lost all they had about them.
7. so as to be of use to: Keep your wits about you.
"All the world is a stage, and we are but actors upon it," said the author, Bill Shakespeare; but the artist, Salvador Dali, said "the man acts the genius, will be one" -- so do we choose our roles in life, how to act, or are our roles chosen for us? I did not ask to love art; it has been with me since kindergarten, although I also remember preschool about as well as I recall images and experiences from kindergarten. In preschool, I had not begun to take interest in drawing, though I am certain that there were ample supplies to color my youthful, visual delight; there are rarely shortages of fat magic markers, wax Crayolas, paper, or even edible glue during preschool. In kindergarten the supplies only got better; somehow I am certain that my kindergarten teacher left a permanent marker nearby because the transition from four to five years old became all the more visual - or hallucinatory. I can't say that I did not have a natural muse to guide my fat, stubby hands toward visual episodes of elementary artistry, but since the strongest human sense tied to memory is smell, I feel inclined to include that something magical marked and triggered my "permanent" creative high.
Jokes aside, for as many moments of encouragement to pursue my talent as there were and have been, my permanent love of the scent of art kept me under the surveillance of the authorities - parents and teachers. At the age of eight, just a few years past kinderarten, my father put me to work in his start-up landscaping and lawn maintenance business. The scent of flowers and freshly cut grass - not to mention diesel and gasoline - came to replace my passion for spending time breathing in creative fumes -- "ethers" that they were. I think my father felt it best to breed/breathe an air of pragmatism in me that my creative bent did little to provide. Heir that I am to both work and forces that labor within and without, I sensed something was being deprived.
Suffocate or Sublimate?
By fourteen, the business side took over when my dad told me that artists starve to death. He took the time to direct my artist eye to a local artist in our small town who lacked any social support for his passion's civic value. "That'll be you, son!" Looking back, he never said so, but I knew what he was implying. His tactic did wield a strong work ethic, and did distract me until the age of twenty-five from scents stronger than grass and gas, but it also bound the muse of my youth. Fettering muses, as it were, is futile and potentially as volatile as fumes. I was fortunate as a child to hear both - my muse and my father - fine art takes both a strong work ethic, and a voice that leads the eye to look closer, longer and more meaningfully. I resigned from impermanence at twenty-five and went back to kindergarten where, in my genuine opinion, I learned all I needed to know. A: never let the world distract you from the world within you, and, B: our strongest memories speak of our permanent purposes; while colorful, they do not wash away and are both toxic, and intoxicating!
It is true, art kept me in trouble with teachers (and parents by default), but the addiction proved positive. In 2007 I earned my BFA, concentrated in sculpture and benefitted from my muse and my youthful labors. I would have never imagined that landscaping would have enhanced my skill as an artist, but sculpture required me to use many of the same set of skills and tools learned thereby to design and manufacture my artwork. Now, with a Master's degree in Art Education, I weigh the value of what my muse and my father taught me, considering the scent of education independent of experience to be as bland as glue, upon which one would no doubt starve. There are indeed starving artists, but pragmatism is learned; so too, is how and why we should appreciate art and artists.
I came to see that the world that is seen has a fetid odor worth forgetting, to be traded for the permanent worlds our youths manufactured. The non-toxic world of pragmatism is indeed quite colorful, but I have been a-mused and remain a-mused by it, diligently pursuing the intoxicating scent of my muse's palette --- marked with madness --- from having Crayola shoved in my ears as my muse...my siren sang.
"Listen to authority, kids, but question it, I say. For art is ab ovo, but by no means tempera-L"!