It’s hard to fit Brittney Wegener’s work into a box, let alone on the wall.
She works mostly in sculpture, and many of her pieces don’t come in under 4 feet. That’s why her January installation at the Fillin’ Station isn’t one cohesive collection, but rather bits and pieces. She included the works that would fit in the space. But bits and pieces, odds and ends, are part of the exciting territory Wegener has marked out for herself.
Odds and Ends
Wegener’s unorthodox choice of materials make her work stand out. Some of the pieces are heavy fabrics, exposed hardware, and resin. There are collages and paintings. A drink coaster plays a key role. Wegener likes to use found materials, like the cardboard and bubble wrap that went into The Star Child, a piece as bright and cheerful as cotton candy. She’s known to do some dumpster diving if the right item catches her eye.
Typically, I’m attracted to an item. I connect with it and I’ll have a thought and try to recreate that thought.Brittney Wegener
“I play with pretty much everything. My current choices of medium are metal, ceramic, plastic, and fabric,” said Wegener. “Typically, I’m attracted to an item. I connect with it and I’ll have a thought and try to recreate that thought.”
Looking at her pieces, they’re all cohesive, intentional, and balanced. Wegener brings new life and purpose to discarded items and even rescues materials doomed for the landfill.
“MSU had their floors redone. These were some of the floor tiles, I pulled them out of the garbage,” Wegener says, pointing to a piece titled Uriel. It’s shimmering silver and looks far from trash. Wegener named the piece after the archangel Uriel, as it looks a bit like a shining chest plate.
This is Wegener’s second show at the Fillin’ Station. The last time her work was on these walls, it was 2014 and she was presenting chalk drawings. Her work has taken on new shapes, and mediums, since then.
These days I build in 3-D, so a lot of my work doesn’t fit on the walls. And I didn’t want to just take pictures of my work and show those, so these are the pieces that would fit.Brittney Wegener
“These days I build in 3-D, so a lot of my work doesn’t fit on the walls. And I didn’t want to just take pictures of my work and show those, so these are the pieces that would fit,” said Wegener. “It’s not necessarily a cohesive body of work. There are pieces here made in 2016 and one I made two weeks ago. I wasn’t going to leave a bunch of empty space.”
The collection may not be cohesive, but it proves Wegener’s range. There is a little bit of everything, even light charms hanging on the windows, and a collection of earrings for sale at the counter.
“I would say my work is very balanced. It’s compiled of different mediums, theories, and concepts. A lot of my work turns out abstract. I don’t necessarily formulate a concept and then make something from the concept. I work more in a flow state,” said Wegener.
One work, titled Dr. Wayne W. Dyer is a canvas containing galactic paint and vague geometry. Across it are the words, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Wegener struggled with addiction, and this was one of the pieces she created when she first got clean.
“I was listening to Dr. Wayne W. Dyer a lot then. I used to draw a lot and paint, that’s actually how I got started,” said Wegener. “I got clean from addiction and started on this spiritual path. I started using dry pastels and I would just constantly make things. It was really freeing and when I decided I was going to do art it was really freeing.”
Art became a tool for Wegener’s personal growth, and her pieces reflected her internal workings.
I rework, reassemble, deconstruct, and make them more interesting. I do that same work on myself. I’m working on me while I’m working on the sculpture.Brittney Wegener
“I’m always doing a lot of work on myself, so I am attracted to items people overlook; cardboard, foam. I rework, reassemble, deconstruct, and make them more interesting. I do that same work on myself,” said Wegener. “I’m working on me while I’m working on the sculpture.”
After getting clean, Wegener began studying art at MSU. She initially studied with a focus on graphic design, which seemed like the most lucrative way to pursue the arts, but she quickly realized her true passion was in sculpture. In 2018 Wegener helped curate AFTERTHOUGHT, an exhibition of lost, unfinished or forgotten pieces, for the 410 Project. She has participated in numerous exhibitions, group and solo, and has come in first place in a juried exhibition. Wegener completed her B.F.A. from MSU in the spring of 2020.
“I used to make art for therapeutic reasons. I needed to release, and I needed to produce something I could look at later and ask questions so I could understand myself,” said Wegener. “But that has changed the most. The reason why I create. Now I make in the hope and intention of creating sparks or inspired action or thought in others. I’m here to wake up the planet.”
The Journey Inwards
While many artists are addressing current events and political issues, Wegener has another purpose for her art.
“My work is far more spiritual than political. I want people to stop looking outwards and start looking in, because we can’t affect change the way we have been doing things,” said Wegener. “It’s such a common statement, people say ‘We have to be the change,’ but it’s true. We have to embody the change.”
Wegener’s pieces are curious, investigative. Many defy definitions and leave viewers with space to contemplate.
“I think the best route is going internally and figuring out who you are and what you want. You can ask ‘Why do people make me angry?’ and see that it’s a reflection of what you don’t like in yourself. Then you can show people how you want to be treated. Then you can accept yourself and accept others,” said Wegener.
When she’s not creating or teaching Art 100 at MSU, Wegener studies astrology, numerology, and spends quality time with her dog, Kuba.
Wegener is continuing to keep her art in the public eye and plans to make her way onto the Mankato sculpture walk at some point. Then she’d like to head out west. She’s inspired by the landscape of New Mexico and would like to work with Meow Wolf, an interactive arts and entertainment group that’s sparked her interest.
I want to help people see who they are and what they came to this earth with.Brittney Wegener
In the long term, Wegener hopes to open her own space where all of her passions can collide; a space for classes, retreats, activities, public art, and spiritual one-on-ones.
“I want to help people see who they are and what they came to this earth with.”
You can follow Wegener on Instagram where she has sculptures available for sale. Make sure to keep an eye out for her upcoming website.
Artist of the Month is a column by Molly Butler, in which she’ll be profiling the current displaying artist at one of MankatoLIFE’s favorite meeting spots, the Fillin’ Station in Mankato.