Department of Art Alumni
Bryn Gillette MFA '09
"In my painting I am pursuing a synthesis of my heart, my hand, and my eyes. I want to paint the emotional collision of my daily life and my deepest spiritual concerns,” says Bryn Gillette. Bryn divides his time between painting and his fundraising for orphans in Haiti and his ministerial responsibilities. He has a B.A. in Visual Art from Gordon College.
"Oikos" by Bryn Gillette Bryn explains the meaning behind his work. Oikos. There is a Biblical Greek term for family called "Oikos", which defines family as anyone living in the "home". In biblical times, homes were often a courtyard surrounded by buildings filled with immediate family, addition rooms as children married and began their own extended families within the greater "home", and even guests that came to stay (long or short term) would be enfolded in the concept of "Oikos Family". I painted an image in this same dimension as a self portrait I did of my wife and I as my proposal gift to her. Now, over five years later, I created this piece as a direct companion documenting the way our family has been redefined over that past half decade: our marriage blended two large families, my own parents divorced and my father remarried creating a "step" branch to the family, we "adopted" and were adopted by a family of 160 children in Haiti, we have renters and friends living in our house, and have a weekly Bible study for the past 5 years which has grown into a true spiritual family. All of these layers are painting in around the mirror frame, using imagery from our home, my in-laws home, and my paternal grandmother's house. In the "Oasis" of the mirror frame is my own family, in the peaceful light of day, my wife pregnant with our second. The shoes are off in reference to "holy ground", and the shoes at the bottom, among other layers of meaning, tell of the many different portions of our daily lives.
"Crven" by Bryn Gillette Crven as explained by Bryn Gillette Crven. When I was sixteen I accompanied my dad to Bosnia and Sarajevo just before the war ended. We went and stayed as guest in a muslim home as Christian missionaries. The irony was not lost on me then, as the "christians" of the area, the ethnic Croat Catholic and the Serbian Orthodox Christians had just attempted genocide on the Islamic ethnic community. I saw war first hand here at sixteen: the rape, the massacres of women and children, the unbridled hatred and demonic capacity of humanity. My childhood, GI Joe, concept of heroic war was entirely dissolusioned and redefined. "Crven" stamped on the crayon in the image is Croation for "red, scarlet, bloody". A fitting metaphor. I structured this composition after the famous "Annunciation" by Rosetti, where the angel Gabriel comes to tell Mary she will give birth to God's son. Here my own dark angel, the visage of childhood innocence haunts my son's bedroom where I read him bedtime stories. This is the "denunciation"... the harbinger of war threatening the future of my son. How much to I tell him? How long do I protect is own innocence and ignorance? Will he go to war? I am playing with scale here formally, and the concept of "reflections". What is real, what is imagined/reflected, why is a 4 inch toy soldier the size of me? Searching the riddle is the meaning of the painting.
"Psalm 17:8 Shadow of your wings" by Bryn Gillette Bryn explains his work Psalm 17:8 Shadow of your wings. This is my son and I asleep for a nap. I often curl up in his toddler bed and sing him to sleep, falling asleep myself. I had my wife take this photo for me one afternoon... I had to wait a half hour for her to come upstairs, I didn't want to move and wake up my son who had fallen asleep on top of me. I never really understood God as Abba, our Heavenly Father, until I had a son of my own. I rejoice over my son Cai. I stand over him while he is sleeping and ache with love for him... the very same way God describes His own love for us, that He would send His own Son to die for us. So this is a self portrait, both of my relationship to my son, and my relationship to my Heavenly Abba (Means daddy in Hebrew). Perhaps the Title of the piece should be "Abba"; it was originally called "Snuggle". "7 Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies. 8 Keep me as the apple of your eye. Hide me in the shadow of your wings." (Psalm 17:7-8 NLT+NIV blend)
"Afternoon Sunlight" by Bryn Gillette Bryn explains the meaning behind his work Afternoon Sunlight. This is my painting as prayer, my blessing and meditation of my pregnant wife as she sleeps in a sunlit pool on our bed.
"Both Sides" by Bryn Gillette Bryn explains his work Both Sides. This is one of 40 or so quick self portraits I did my first year in the MFA. I was tucked up in the attic of my in-laws home one snowy day over Thanksgiving Break in 2007. The blue light on one side of my face if from a window towards a snow covered roof on a cloudy day, and the yellow light is a utility light hanging from the rafters of the ceiling... I loved the theatrical light it created, and the duality it brought out within me. As someone who has struggled with Manic or Bipolar Depression, this was a particularly poignant study of my inner and outer self. If you look closely enough, there are mouse prints across the work from a little attic companion who took the liberty to march across the work as it dried on an old mattress in the shadows. This piece was my first ever entry into a National Juried show curated by Yale Professor and renown artist William Bailey. He gave me an honorable mention for the piece, and that was a great compliment to me. Thank you Prof. Bailey!