Interview with 1808 Magazine / by Brittany Søndberg

Brittany Søndberg, abstract sculptor

Why I do what I do: I enjoy working with my hands and creating form, from my imagination. I prefer to work intuitively with a general idea in my mind, then make decisions as I go. I often embed certain personally symbolic shapes or use formal elements to convey a sense that is similar to, or a metaphor for, particular feelings. I am not interested in these being direct or narrated, rather I prefer to allow the viewer to use their imagination and find their own meaning in the form.

What sound or noise do you love? 35mm film camera shutter and advance, also a sizzle, that of frying, as well as that of a good weld.

Where do you find your inspiration? I tend to be inspired by the abstract idea of relationships both between people and to the past through eroded and altered memory. My desire to make work is a kind of psychological release in response to the feeling I have when I think of how time, memory, and existence are finite and constantly fleeting. I feel like creating objects is a weird attempt to capture time as much as to record how I think and feel. This is why my work is mostly non-narrative. Abstraction seems, to me at least, to capture the weirdness of time and experience. This isn’t the only inspiration however, this is just something that always returns, in slightly different ways, when I am developing ideas. More generally, I am inspired by consciousness and perception, and the way language fails at truly conveying our personal, interior experience, which is why I use sculpture, to express/release these ideas.

What’s your greatest achievement? A series of events including: having my son in April 2012, in August 2012 going back to school to prepare to transition into a new field of art, soon after, entering graduate school and completing my MFA in 2015. Then a year later, landing an assistant professorship in 2016, at Greensboro College. After seven years of making and selling custom jewelry and teaching workshops and feeling a little tired of that (and not quite making ends meet), I was trying to figure out what I was going to do. When I was pregnant, I decided I wanted to go to graduate school for sculpture, so this series of events was life-changing in many ways.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I would love to have a flower farm and vineyard. Additionally, I would like to study geology and archaeology.

Who is your hero in real life? Sculptor heroes include Martin Puryear and my late thesis chair, Andy Dunnill. I really feel like most of what I understand about sculpture came from him. Not sure about everyday heroes, probably my late grandmom, Vera Golato, among many other attributes, she was an excellent golfer (hit two holes-in-ones and she didn’t start until she was like 50!). I have her clubs and am interested in picking it up, hoping to have her skills!

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?Teleportation. I’d really like to travel more.

How does Greensboro play a role in your art? I was involved with the Center for Visual Artists for a few years, I used to have a studio at Lyndon Street Artworks and I have a couple of permanent, public works in town — one at General Greene Elementary and one out front of the Cultural Arts building, downtown. Also, I love that I have a good network of sculptors in town.