Q&A: Artist Britt Flood Gets Personal with Public Art in the Triangle

Visual artist Britt Flood on inspiration and her hopes for public art in the Triangle.

Visual artist Britt Flood is all about making the private public- that is to say, she depicts our most secret moments in her public art.

The Pittsboro-based artist has exhibited work and contributed to public art installations all over the Triangle, including DPAC, the North Carolina Museum of Art, VAE, and many more. Working in a wide range of media, Flood most often explores themes of intimacy in her work.

Flowers bloom from the faces of lovers, vines twining to show two lives growing together. A kiss is rendered in neon pinks and blues. Our most private expressions of emotion become communal experiences- a point of bonding between strangers as the beauty of the intensely personal becomes accessible in the public sphere.

I caught up with Flood on her inspirations, the Triangle arts scene, and her upcoming projects.

You often depict lovers in your work, though you explore the themes of romance and intimacy in a variety of textures, color palettes, and media- for instance, Before the Kiss versus Former Lover versus Reading Together. How have your life experiences influenced your aesthetic choices in these pieces?

I have been lucky enough to experience great love and greater heartbreak. These moments have resulted in profound personal growth over the past year and have led to a curiosity in attempting to visualize intimacy. Can I exude love with one mark that connects two figures? Can I convey doubt or distrust by using line and shadow in one figure and not the other? Can I imitate intimacy with a brush? I will certainly try.

My experience has made me softer and has influenced the specific choices of the muted palette in Before the Kiss, the out of body perspective of the two figures in Former Lover, and the quiet closeness I attempted to capture through hazy shading in Reading Together. These works aim to instill a sense of lovesickness in the viewer.

“Before the Kiss” by Britt Flood

Which figures in art history most inspire you? Who among your contemporaries most inspires you?

Andrew Wyeth, Paul Wonner, and Odilon Redon are my paint gods at the moment. I greatly admire film directors Agnès Varda and Ingmar Bergman, and gain much romantic inspiration from poets William Blake and Walt Whitman.

Contemporary artists on my radar are painters Doron Langberg, Cinga Samson, Manon Wertenbroek, Ridley Howard, and Robin F. Williams, photographers Ren Hang and Harley Weir, fashion designer Iris Van Herpen, and sculptor Christian Maychack.

What would your dream studio look like?

I am currently living in my dream “home” studio – a quaint A-frame cabin in Pittsboro, NC, though I am finding my ideas and marks that I need to make are much bigger than my home studio allows.

My dream studio has tall ceilings, large white walls, and one wall of floor to ceiling windows with a view of the forest. Outside would be a garden patio that faces the ocean with a walking path leading to the water (for quick swim breaks while the paint dries of course!)

Mural at Filament in Mebane, 2018

Why do you think we’ve experienced such a blossoming of the Triangle arts scene in the last few years?

I believe the recent trends and push for public art and art/design festivals have led to a blooming art scene here. We are lucky to have amazing local arts councils providing regional artists with the opportunity for stipends, grants, and workspace to produce new work right here in NC.

With the support of the following local businesses, galleries, and festivals over the past year, I feel fortunate to have experienced part of our blossoming art scene and am grateful to have exhibited work or contributed to creative projects with these folks: NCMA, Office of Raleigh Arts, VAE, Artspace, Morning Times, Foundation Bar, Trophy Tap & Table, Hopscotch Design Festival, DPAC, The Carrack, Arcana, American Tobacco Campus, Filament, and Shakori Hills Music & Arts Festival.

In your view, what does the future of the Triangle arts scene look like? How do you see it evolving?

I envision large scale mural, public art, and interactive art festivals coming our way. I see our arts scene evolving further beyond traditional disciplines. I have my fingers crossed for more affordable artist housing and studios, in addition to more collaborative, open studios and artist residency opportunities.

“Multiples” from VAE Raleigh, 2017

You’ll be a participating artist in the Hillsborough Street Temporary Art Pedestal Project in August 2018. What is it like working on pieces that are temporary by design versus working on something intended to last forever? How does the knowledge that a piece is temporary influence your practical and aesthetic choices?

It was a pleasure working with Raleigh Arts on this public art project. Works that are intended to be temporary by nature are enchanting to me because there is a limited time and place to experience the piece. The moment a work of art is placed into the public realm, the possibility of interaction becomes instant, and that is one of the reasons I am so excited to have contributed to this project. My practice and choices are immediately affected once the decision is made for the piece to be temporary – context, colors, composition; all decisions become more bold, it’s a time to ‘go for it!’. Though it is my intention to create a lasting, meaningful impact whether a work of mine is temporary or permanent. All pedestals are now installed on Hillsborough Street, happy hunting!

Flood’s Hillsborough Street Art Pedestal

Not only will you be participating in the 2018 Monster Drawing Rally, you were also commissioned by the NCMA to create three hand-drawn gifs to promote the event. This event is designed to encourage interaction between artists and the public- how did you pull from the ideas of accessibility and interaction while creating the gifs?

I’m beyond excited to share my stream of consciousness approach to drawing and painting with the public for the second year in a row at this event. With interaction and transparency in mind, while creating the hand-drawn gifs I completed each in a public setting and allowed for the environment or experience at that moment to influence the next mark of each drawing. A greenway trail, a coffee shop, and a flight out of RDU made for great sketching spots.

Still from a gif Flood created for the NCMA

Finally, you have an exciting art installation coming up in October that will be on display at Shakori Hills Music & Arts Festival. Tell me about what the public can expect from this piece.

This installation will be explorative in the sense that it will be my first work of temporary public art that incorporates both my poetry and love of painting. Without revealing too much, this work will use light and shadow as a medium. I will be hand cutting all poems out of reflective material, adhering them to transparent surfaces, and painting gestural elements on top. When viewers pass by and under the installation, the reflective elements of the poems and brush marks will create colorful shadows on the viewers’ bodies. This will be my second year providing visual art at Shakori, in 2017 I live painted an 8ft x 8ft x 8ft mural cube by day and created light up murals by night.

Flood at work.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Britt Flood’s Links

Website: https://ello.co/blflood

Instagram: @b.l.flood

Twitter: @painter_woes

Follow The Triangle Guide

Instagram: @thetriangleguide

Twitter: @GuideTriangle

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