"There is sexuality in all our lives all the time. I think
that's maybe a good place to start," said Paedra Bramhall during
her gallery opening titled A Searching Mind: The Many Transitions
of Paedra, held Feb. 15.
The show is a retrospective exhibition of Paedra
Bramhall's 43 years creating art and the many
transformations she has experienced along the way.
Based in Bridgewater, Vt., Paedra creates a diverse array of art
including transfigured collage prints, ink paintings, bronze
sculptures and blown-art glass interiors.
"I don't separate the aspects of my work," she said. "It's all
part of a visual language; it all tells a story." Paedra sees the
different art mediums as part of a vocabulary she uses to shape
ideas; some materials work better to communicate certain
Paedra attributes the foundation for many of her artistic
endeavors to her years at Cleveland Institute of the Arts. She was
given an "amazing opportunity to start all over" as a freshman of a
five year program- after she had already completed three years of
an undergrad degree. "I talked my way into art school," Paedra says
of the unique opportunity. "It was the best decision I ever made,"
While she learned a variety of skills at art school, that isn't
want she values most. "Art isn't just having skills, you have to
learn the language and to learn how to see art, school taught me
the language, how to see it," she explained.
Paedra majored in sculpture and minored in ceramics. But she did
not learn glass there. Rather she was introduced to glass by a
friend who was on the forefront of the Glass Movement at Madison
University in 1964. This was the period when glass work changed
from being an industrial process to an art form, she explained.
"Jim handed me a blowpipe and I got bit by it," she said. Paedra
then studied glass at Penland School of Craft, in North Carolina,
for three weeks the summer of '67 then again for 11 weeks the
Paedra came back to Bridgewater, Vt. because she didn't want to
work for anyone else and because "it was a good place to start… the
biggest problem for sculptures is space," she said, explaining that
studio space was always her first priority, although she had very
little when she first moved to Bridgewater.
Some of the earliest works on display at The Killington Arts
Guild Gallery are 1972 and '73 Sumi ink drawings hung on left wall
as you walk in. Paedra started ink painting technique as a
sophomore at Cleveland Institute and has continued that medium to
express some of her most recent works.
The ink painting series titled America the Beautiful is one of
the primary focal points of the exhibit. Stretching from floor to
ceiling, the eight paintings depict human forms in various
positions in front of red, white and blue American flag
Paedra is used to viewers objecting to her artwork as many
elicit a strong response. "I will guardian your right to find
objection to any piece in here," she says. "But don't tell me I
can't do it… don't tell me or someone else that they don't have the
right to express it; to raise questions." Paedra feels strongly
that raising questions about society is a responsibility of
citizens and that artists have a unique way of illustrating such
questions "so that we can look at both sides of the coin, because a
coin doesn't have just one side," she said, adding that in America,
we are lucky to have the freedom of speech to express and question
"When in comes to sexuality, there are double standards in
society that can be very negative," Paedra continued. "One of the
themes that reoccurs throughout my work is a sexual theme," Paedra
said during the gallery talk. "Being transgendered, maybe I'm a
little more sensitive to that aspect in our society than others may
be, but there's a real double standard in our society."
Explaining the America the Beautiful series, Paedra illustrated
one common double standard saying, "It's ok for a man to show chest
and it's not ok for a women to show her chest. If a woman walks
down the street bare-breasted than she's a slut, but if a guy walks
down the street bare-chested he's a stud. So I play with that in my
art very purposely."
The exhibition, which opened Feb. 10, will remain on display
through May 12 in the Killington Arts Guild open daily from 9:30
a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the upstairs Gallery at Base Camp
Outfitters/Cabin Fever Gifts on Route 4. In the coming weeks, look
for Paedra's story to unfold with a deeper look into her
glass work and collages.