Digital artist and O‘ahu resident Brennan Alexa applies her training as a printmaker to layer and manipulate dreamscapes into alluring works rich in depth and texture a la Matisse’s abstract cutouts. Through her art, Alexa bridges the gap between divides.
Artist Brennan Alexa. ARTWORK PHOTO COURTESY OF BRENNAN ALEXA.
“I hope to show in my work that we all speak a common language of needing one another and needing connection to the natural world in order to survive,” she says. Here is her artful story.
She began sharing her art publicly during the 2020 COVID-19 shutdown; “Mauna.” ARTWORK PHOTO COURTESY OF BRENNAN ALEXA.
What ignited your passion for the arts?
I have always felt a deep urge to create and that often stems from never seeing the things I imagine in life until I create them. I remember being a little girl and wanting all my toy horses to be able to have wings and fly, but never saw those type of toys anywhere. I remember cutting out paper wings and filling them in with beautiful colors and believing that they were flying around my house. I needed to bring to life what only existed in my imagination. This thinking feeds my current artistic passion.
For the longest time I struggled to find my identity with my art—always feeling like I was playing off of other people’s ideas and forms of creating before me. With this style it feels uniquely mine, which allows me the desire to explore it deeper and deeper.
“I am inspired by quiet moments in nature, dream spaces and intimate forms of exchanges between people,” she says. “You will see these themes constantly throughout my work.” PORTRAITS BY IJKE RIDGLEY.
Take us inside your process.
I have two ways of my creative process. Sometimes I am inspired by a memory, a scene, an image, an exchange or a space and use that image to manipulate it into my style. The other is straight from a play state, where I am not focused on an outcome. My mind is silent and I am seeing where presence brings me. These are serendipitous moments that I cherish as gifts from spirit.
“Awakened” ARTWORK PHOTO COURTESY OF BRENNAN ALEXA
How do O‘ahu and Hawai‘i influence your art?
I spend a lot of time outdoors admiring trees, the ocean, the changes of daylight and, particularly, the mountains. You will see a lot of mountains and full moons as a theme in my work. When I’m not creating images of intimate exchanges between human figures, I’m drawing my influences from nature. O‘ahu has been a gentle and loving home to me and many others who seek healing consciously or unconsciously from the islands.
I feel that as people we have forgotten that nature is not something separate from us but is us. I see how often people come here and mindlessly take from the land, from sacred spaces and from the Hawaiian culture itself and do not give back in an equal way. In my work and in my writing, I hope to slow my audience down enough to want to ponder the spaces they enter, not just their homes or vacation spots, but every space they enter.
For me, I believe this is my duty as a settler here—to give back by educating myself about the spaces I enter on the islands and promote their stories through my work.
“Birth of a Volcano” ARTWORK PHOTO COURTESY OF BRENNAN ALEXA
What is your artistic mission?
My artistic mission is to deeply explore the world and myself to help inspire more connection and compassion toward nature and one another. I feel that with varying political views, cultures, crises and outlooks it has been easy to be mistrusting of one another. I hope that with my art I simplify what is beautiful and accessible to us all—a tender embrace, a beautiful view and our need to tend to the Earth, which houses us all.
This is our annual Giving Issue, and philanthropy can take many forms. What impact do you hope to have on the community?
I am a forever student of the world. I create to internalize things that captivate me by engaging with it physically. It is my way of deeply exploring a subject and have it become a part of my soul. I hope that with what I explore deeply through my art I am able to simplify and communicate with my audience authentically as I strive for a peaceful mind in this world.