An old calendar changed the course of Brandt Eisner’s life.
Eisner creates art using a variety of unusual and everyday items, focused on issues he feels are important. But he developed his creative talent by working with flowers.
“My grandmother would do flowers for her church, and I learned things from her,” he recalled. “By the time I was 12, I was competing in floral design.
“One day someone gave me an old calendar showing competition winners in floral design. I looked at it and thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ I discovered I could do things with junk and make it beautiful.
“It’s a form of balance. Every important thing sculpture needs is contained in floral design.”
Eisner uses sports equipment, toys, books, clothing and many other items to create sculpture, but also works with media such as ink and paper. A lot of thought goes into each piece, with about 90 per cent of his studio time spent working inside his head.
“There’s sort of a mystery about artists and talent,” he said. “Talent exists; it’s what you choose to do with that talent that brings purpose.
“People bring their own history to my work, and that’s okay. If they don’t like or understand it, that’s okay. Usually they have some emotional response to it pretty quickly.”
Eisner often uses art to address what he’s thinking about or experiencing, as he has with the pieces in his new show, Institutionalized, which opens in the gallery at the Marigold Cultural Centre on July 5.
“Most are heavy on social commentary,” he said. “They may be offensive to some because they tap into things they don’t want to think about.
“I hope they will encourage people to think about why they believe certain things. Thinking about what we believe and what we do on a daily basis makes us more aware of ourselves.”
Recent world events have caused him to think about how the rights and privileges people have taken so long to gain are now at risk.
“It can all change quickly. Just thinking, ‘It’s better now’ is dangerous. We have to keep fighting for people to be treated as people.”
He chose the name for his new show because he feels people are all institutionalized in some form.
“It’s about what you haven’t had a choice in,” he said. “When you really think about it you have to choose what to believe and understand the consequences of that choice.”
The opening reception for Institutionalized takes place Thursday, July 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit will remain on display until the end of July.