‘A Dark Whisper’
Returning to the fantastical world she has cultivated since childhood,Brandi Milne has astonished viewers with her first solo show in over ayear, ‘My Heart Shall Not Fear’ which opened this past Saturday nightat Corey Helford gallery. In stark contrast to her last body of work,‘Run Rabbit Run’; which featured female figures and disembodied animalheads floating in colorful yet undefined space, her new work once againoccupies the specific wonderland of Milne’s creation, brought to lifewith acrylic and ink on wooden panels. Milne’s world, with its tallgrass and talking candy has darkened, as the threat of death becomesrealized in a place that has been otherwise spared of such sadness.
‘Cry of the Midnight Songbird’
The work features a distinct splitting; the world is at once glowing and hopeful, and yet a dark force looms, threatening the delicate balance of life for its inhabitants. This dividing, explored in the age old conflicting mysteries of heaven and hell, life and death, focuses around the female figures that populate and dominate the lands. These figures are the familiar long limbed characters that we have seen in past works as nurturing and carefree femmes transporting armloads of sweet treats to friends or gently embracing their animal and aquatic companions. In the newest chapter of their world, the figures have undergone a transformation….
‘Give Me Your Soul, Little One’
Emotionally the characters take on opposing roles. Nurses and nuns, traditional archetypes for caregivers, embrace dying birds while a cat-masked witch lures her prey into her pumpkin cottage in ‘Give Me Your Soul, Little One.’ Physically, their limbs, while still un-proportionally long, appear to have shrunk, as the figures appear closer in size to their companions. This transition allows for a new intimacy in the work, a vulnerability that was only hinted at previously. Even the candy is in peril, an ice cream cone melts in slumber within a circus train captained by a giant skull in ‘Sleep Escapes Me.’ Black cats, skulls and pumpkins transported from Halloween freckle the work, adding a playfully sinister texture that echo the latent horrors of beloved childhood fairytales.
‘Sleep Escapes Me’
Navigating the new terrain of the land has shown its wear on its inhabitants. Blood soaks through the gowns and nurse uniforms from unseen wounds seeming to originate from their hearts or tear ducts and trickles down their legs. Nearly all of the characters appear with their heads turned in and downward in a shared mourning or silent prayer. Even the color palette appears more somber and complex than in past works, with it’s gloomy grays and intense deep reds that only further illuminates that spots of hope that appear in the work, such as the glowing flower in ‘Breathe In Peaceful Slumber.’ These moments of hope and clarity further serve to expose the tender vulnerability of the characters and their capacity for change and growth. Through these dueling emotions and themes the work serves as a reminder that even though the human experience is marred with tragedy and loss, it is also filled with hope and healing.
Brandi Milne – Opening Night
Kristin Burns, Natalia Fabia, Misha, friend, Brandi Milne, Stephanie Escobar
‘Wander Eternal Beauty’
Marcus Lo (AM), Mia, Joe Ledbetter
‘Breath in Peaceful Slumber’
Jan Corey Helford, Buff Monster
‘Within the Hollow’
Angelique Groh, Brandi Milne, Sherri Trahan
‘My Heart Shall Not Fear’
All opening night photos courtesy of Sam Graham