Sarah Braman: Finding Room Virtual Guide:  Sarah Braman: Finding Room—Virtual Guide

Text by Andrea Alvarez and Zack Boehler

Wood and glass sculptures in a wood-floored room

Sarah Braman encourages us to think about the ways in which function, history, aesthetics, and spirituality continually shape our immediate environment. Brought meaningfully to the forefront of our minds when we encounter Braman’s sculptures on the Graycliff grounds, we are unable, at least momentarily, to remain indifferent to these spaces.

Braman makes domestically-scaled indoor and monumental outdoor sculptures that celebrate everyday life. In her indoor practice, she combines found objects like furniture, doors, and pieces of scrapyard vehicles with colorful geometric volumes. Composed by similar means, her outdoor sculptures made from concrete culverts that lie beneath our roads and buildings, are enlivened by the addition of colored glass. This exhibition is the very first time that viewers can experience Braman’s indoor and outdoor sculptures together, and it is the first opportunity for these practices to speak to one another.

In the sunporch on the first floor of Graycliff, while standing beside Reading, 2020, viewers can look through the window to see the concrete sculpture Stay, 2022. Each sculpture features books selected by the artist to invite prolonged engagement. The cube of colored glass in Reading has an airy, voluminous quality that almost floats, in contrast to Stay’s heavy, opaque walls. The weight and groundedness of Stay, nestled as it is on the grass and among the trees, suggests it has been in this location long before any of us came along. One might imagine it to be a found object, like the cookery and furniture included in Braman’s other artworks, her intervention the enlivening addition of colored glass and books as she works with the environment. In this, she shares much with architect Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959).

Sarah Braman: Finding Room Virtual Guide:  Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff—Grounds

Map of the grounds of Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff

Like Graycliff itself, the monumental outdoor pieces on its grounds will respond to and be changed by the seasons: over the course of the exhibition, both of these structures— these containers for life—will look out onto Lake Erie, be bathed in the heat of sunlight in the summer, witness to autumn, and be draped with snow in the winter. Changing weather and light conditions will provide varied visual and physical experiences of Braman’s sculptures, inviting multiple visits and fostering an ongoing engagement with this important site. Much like Wright’s designs, Braman’s outdoor works rely on human interaction to invigorate the space and connect it to its surrounding environment. They invite viewers to enter their light-filled spaces and be enveloped by her chosen materials. It is from within these volumes that one can truly appreciate Braman’s use of colored glass. One witnesses the additive mixing of colors that emanate from the panes, contemplating the fullness of these spaces and their relationship to the surrounding landscape.

01

Sit, 2022

Precast concrete, steel, glass

02

Stay, 2022

Precast concrete, steel, glass

Sarah Braman: Finding Room Virtual Guide:  Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff—First Floor

Map of the first floor of Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff

Situating Finding Room on and within Graycliff, designed by Wright in 1926, places Braman’s work in conversation with this architectural masterpiece. In their practices, Wright and Braman explore the relationship of nature and found elements to humanmade objects, drawing attention to lived experience with deceivingly simple formal gestures. As you walk through Graycliff, you will see that Wright combined  glass, wood, and stone taken directly from the site to create the intricate details of the organic style of architecture that became his legacy.  Braman uses similar materials to create forms that revere commonly overlooked aspects of daily life. The interaction between natural and humanmade materials and, perhaps especially, the dialogue between light and glass are springboards for both artists.

03

Reading, 2020

Table, glass, maple, book, paint

04

Friend, 2020

Maple, found wood, and glass

05

Massachusetts, 2017

Found door and chair, wood, window film, acrylic, and fabric dye

06

Her desk, 2019

Found furniture, anodized aluminum, glass, and fabric dye

07

Paula, 2018

Wood, glass, and chair

08

Blue coffee, 2019

Painted aluminum and glass

09

Cooking (For Phil), 2021

Frying pan, glass, wood

Sarah Braman: Finding Room Virtual Guide:  Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff—Second Floor

Map of second floor of Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff

Braman’s sculptures can be viewed in relationship to the formal legacies of modernism, like Color Field painting and Minimalist sculpture. Instead of the reverent quality of a white-walled gallery, Braman’s preferred context is domestic, so that the sculptures are experienced as part of one’s everyday life. Placing her sculptures in a house that is itself part of the modernist tradition yet also carries the intimacy of a beloved family home, underscores how Braman’s work both resists and embraces modernist traditions to reconsider our lived environment. When you encounter a work like Her House, 2019 (11), in Isabelle’s bedroom, you witness the glow generated by light passing through the pink and yellow glass volume, while at the same time feeling the warmth of the well-loved and sweetly decorated bedroom that belonged to the house’s matron, Isabelle Martin.

10

Your Room, 2017

Found table, laminated glass, wood, acrylic paint, dyed fabric

11

Her House, 2019

Desk parts, plywood, and colored glass

12

8 AM, 2017

Glass, steel frames, wood, acrylic, and fabric dye

13

Tuesday Dinner, 2018

Wood, glass, and spoons

Shown together, Braman’s indoor and outdoor works have an even greater impact than when they are seen separately. Encountering them inside the home, the viewer takes in Braman’s sculptures as beautiful, external objects: one can walk around them, witnessing the changing play of color and unexpected juxtapositions with the setting. But one participates in her outdoor work: a visitor stands inside of the heavy concrete sculpture, where their own body is colored by the light, and they feel, as well as see, the weight and volume of concrete as they sit within it. Both deeply personal and visually enveloping, the experience of Braman’s sculptures changes how we see the ordinary, stretching our perceptual abilities—from without and within.

Sarah Braman

Biography

Sarah Braman (she/her) makes sculptures that serve as monuments to everyday life. Interested in the interplay between sensory experience and emotional resonance, Braman combines found materials with natural objects and volumes of glass colored in her distinctive palette, suggesting themes of home, family, and nature, with their joyful immersion in lived experience and emotional life.

Braman was born in 1970 in Tonawanda, New York and currently lives and works in Amherst, Massachusetts. She commutes to New York City most weeks to work with CANADA, an artist-run gallery where she has been a managing partner for twenty-one years.

Braman earned a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and an MFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. Her solo exhibitions include True Blue Mirror, with Ellen Berkenblit, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco, California (2019); Growth, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York (2019); and Here, Marlborough Contemporary, London (2017). Braman has also participated in group exhibitions at Crystal Bridges, Bentonville (2019); MASS MoCA, North Adams (2017–18); and Kunsthalle Helsinki, Finland (2016). Braman currently has outdoor work installed for public view at Art Omi in Ghent, NY and University of Houston. In 2013, she was the recipient of the Maud Morgan Prize from MFA, Boston.

This exhibition is curated by Assistant Curator Andrea Alvarez and Public Art Project Coordinator Zack Boehler.

All works courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, except Paula, courtesy of Collection Stephen King, C12, New York ©️ Sarah Braman.

Photos: Brenda Bieger, Jeff Mace, and Amanda Smith for Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Public Art Initiative Sponsors

The Public Art Initiative was established and is supported by leadership funding from the County of Erie and the City of Buffalo.