Creator Q&A with : Brianna Robinson
Brianna Robinson Artist and photographer
In a few words state who you are, your occupation and what it is that you create. Brianna Robinson, I am service disabled veteran, with 2 tours in desert storm. I am unemployed due to my injuries, and so I focus on therapy which is now photography, my new job is keeping myself sane and healthy. I picked up a camera a year ago as apart of The Odyssey Project. Long story short I realized that the camera was there everyday and able to change my mood, and now that has become my primary source of therapy. I really feel its a good way for other vets to heal, to use photography as a healing method.That is all I want to do, I to create beauty, as I have seen enough trauma, you know that I want to see more beauty that is what I focus on now, yet some of it still comes across as dark, gritty raw because of my past experiences.
Describe what you see when you look out your window. Funny you should ask because I now see life, its beauty, and its pain almost entirely through my window now. I have one window that I look out that has become my entire perspective. As a street photographer I used to go out everyday and photograph and meet people, speak with them. And now taking images out the window has become a partial link to sanity. One of my upcoming exhibits will likely be a result of COVID-19, and my narrowed view of the world through my window. What is a podcast, book, or song that is keeping you sane? Well, idk I just listen to a lot of music, I go through periods of reading but I haven’t read a lot through this, or really anything outside of news lately. I use music primarily as a healing and creative inspiration. My tastes are very wide, anything from jazz fusion to hardcore industrial punk, it doesn’t matter almost to me. It more depends on the mood I am in and how I need to heal. What is a word that makes you laugh? A word? That make me laugh? Idk, um, flatulence - genuflect, or maybe braggadocios, there is a number of them. I love words, I love vocabulary, words are similar to art in that its a powerful form of expression.
What is the color of your current mood? Blue, it is the color of life to me, representing many things such as water, sky, and air, the good things.…you’ll see a lot of my images have a very vivid blue included in them. I use the color a lot in editing, I’ll even drop it in the shadows to compliment a color. I always use blue in someway in my color photographs.
What is something that brings you joy? Well, photography. Its actually everything its become my everything its become my source of voice, my passion, my way to communicate with the world. COVID-19 aside, what frustrates you? Um, just selfish or greedy people. That's probably the biggest bane of our existence here. What do you feel most hopeful about? The art community, and arts in general will be able to re-shift the focus, in a way allowing us to to face our errors and misunderstandings. I think its important that artist lead the way right now for this broken society. As artists we have a big responsibility to inspire and motive the public and now, that responsibility is even greater. Artists ability to elicit emotion and empathy through art will be the very power that can cause the needed changes going forward. How do you define your creative process - what makes you tick, what is your practice? Well, I really just let the environment inspire me. I really go out with little to no
pre-planning ever. I see the sun shining in the morning and it makes me want to go out, or I see the sun reflecting off a building and want to pick up my camera. I’ve probably shot about 2,000 images out this window, and edited about a 100 for my Instagram feed. That's why when I say I want to have an exhibit on it because so much of my current work has through my window. But when I was a street photographer my inspiration could be someones hat, or a smile, or you know the reflection of a window. It could be anything, Its kinda like a squirrel mentality. I guest instructed a few classes on street photography for the CEPA Gallery and my process came up, and I said you know we walk until we see something that inspires us. Using composition and juxtaposition, anything can draw my attention. Often times I see things before they happen. What scenery will a biker become a part of before he even gets to me, that's what I like to tell people, there is no process its about the beauty that falls in front of me, its really random. I guess I am kinda like a n improve comedian, if photographers were comedians. I am adaptive. My create process is I just walk around and when I stumble upon an interesting or attractive scene, I will camp out there and wait for my subject, or in times the background itself will become the subject.
I think its actually due to my PTSD which allows me a greater alertness to pull things from my environment. And that's what I want to teach to others, specifically people who have experienced trauma. There is great power in a camera, using it to express yourself, using your PTSD what seems as a brokenness in the world, but to use it for good. Now I view my PTSD as a gift. I want I to teach others the gift that they have. It took a great sacrifice to get that gift, but we have it now and we need to use it to heal ourselves and others around us. This is why I have a squirrel mentality. I jump everywhere, this is apart of my disability, why I don’t draw or write lengthy things anymore. If I have too much time to think about something it becomes muddy. That is why my work is so raw and unscripted. That's just how how my life rolls!
What is something challenging you’ve accomplished as a creator? My photography in and of itself has now become my therapy as well of a way of expressing the beauty that I am blessed to encounter. Having my work recognized as a inspiration to others, while using my art as both personal therapy and an expression of myself and my feelings. Photography has become a powerful healing force in my life and a way that I can express the beauty that I am blessed to encounter. As far as future accomplishments, I hope too help other veterans and people who have experienced trauma from this COVID experience using by using photography as a healing process. Name an artist or creator you draw influence from? I draw most of my influence from artists, friends, or even the morning sun. I've noticed in other veterans photographic work their use of emotion and subject matter is both powerful and healing. This is important that's why I want to help veterans heal.
How has COVID-19 affected you? Have you changed your process during quarantine? Not much really has changed at all aside from the frequency of going out. Of course the biggest changed in my subject matter is the lack of people, however my day to day hasn't changed much. For example I don't have a daily job to go too, a boyfriend or girlfriend to visit, its more so the limitations that have come about since COVID19.
In your opinion what do you think the “new normal” should look like for our global society? Um, well lets see, outside of the fact that we will be fortunate to see a new normal, whatever normal was, I guess I hope that things become more localized and connected. I want to get back to the importance to local businesses and farms, put our priorities back in local communities and families. So much has drawn us apart in recent years whether it be social media or politicians or this new virus, we seem to continually get driven apart. While COVID has driven us apart, our new normal is already becoming the answer of local organization and support regarding food, health care and social connectivity.
What do you look forward to most once quarantine restrictions are lessened? Well, street photography for certain. But also, of course I like uh, I have a lot of close relationships, I like hugging people, begin around people. Even though I am an empath, I can be very social. I look forward to concerts, picnics and art shows, but mostly street photography and getting back to shooting.
In closing, describe or reflect on an aspect of nature that inspires you. I would say the most powerful aspect of nature that inspires me is light. Without light none else is visible. It's kinda like intelligence and with a lack of intelligence things become invisible. My biggest inspiration is light, especially as a photographer. Let there be light she says!