Pictorial anthropologist Brian Michael Reed at the opening of his exhibit Saturday, Oct. 22. / Photo by Beth Christian Broschart

Pictorial anthropologist unveils work at the M.I.B. Gallery, and it’s not like anything that’s ever been on display there before

BUCKHANNON – ‘A Day of Creation’ is now on display at the M.I.B. Gallery at the Colonial Arts Center and features the artwork of Clay County native Brian Michael Reed.

The show is free and open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 8 p.m. through Saturday, December 10, 2022.

Reed, a multi-media artist, met with local art enthusiasts for the opening of the exhibit Oct. 22 and was introduced by Bryson VanNostrand who said every opening in the gallery was like ‘Christmas.’

“To have an artist, especially of your caliber, to come share your work with us, teach us about you and about your world, helps us learn more about our world, it is a celebration of the highest order,” VanNostrand said.

Reed’s work is on display in the CAC’s M.I.B. Gallery Fridays and Saturdays from 4-8 p.m. through Dec. 10. / Photo by Beth Christian Broschart

VanNostrand, president and founding member of ART26201, said the display is a cohesive body of work and said he hopes everyone will know why Brian creates the pieces he does.

“This is a genre of work we have not had in our town before,” VanNostrand said. “There is a lot of cultural depth to these pieces.”

Reed works within the mediums of painting, sculpture and installation, and told the audience he grew up “in the middle of nowhere.” You can read more about his work and philosophies here.

“It is wonderful to be able to share my life’s work and journey,” Reed said, who refers to himself as a pictorial anthropologist. “I go around, and I immerse myself in communities and engage with a topic, whether that topic is learning about a traditional art form that is native to an area or whether it is working with a community to rebuild from a natural disaster or a community that may have a lack of resources and poverty.”

“I study in my daily life what is meaningful that may be very familiar to the people that are living there,” he added. “But if I come there and bring my experience in identifying something that stands out to me because I have a fresh set of eyes, I am able to show a different perspective for the community and be a part of that.”

He said he possesses the dirt of all the places he has been.

“I lived in China for more than 10 years,” Reed shared. “I have been in Japan for almost three years and other parts of Asia for longer than that. A lot of my work is looking at universalisms – across all cultures across all times. That includes life, death, violence and sexuality – all things humans deal with.”

Reed shared some information about some of the larger, hanging pieces in his display.

“There are locust fence posts from my family’s farm in Clay County,” he said. “They have been through forest fires; they have seen a lot. I often, as a child, experienced nature and I thought ‘how can I combine the powerful symbols that I experienced everyday in my childhood with objects that I collected?’ So, these are actually designed to catch spirits – they are vessels containing a spiritual medicine. Some of you may be attracted to a particular sculpture more than others, and perhaps it is because it has a spiritual residence or medicine that may affect you in a way you wish to engage further with.”

Reed said the posts are playful.

“Some have bells, and they attract a spirit. It becomes trapped within the vessel and then it becomes able to radiate its effects. This practice is found throughout Africa and in the new world and the Caribbean and south in the U.S.,” he said. “For this show, I wanted to create a spiritual forest. Within the forest there are different realms. Behind me is the air realm that contains insects. There is a heavenly realm and a water realm. Then there is an earthly realm. These are all ideas on the watersheds we grew up on.”

Reed said part of what he does is make the meek mythic.

“I create stories about myth,” he said. “I think a place like West Virginia is right for storytellers to come and see the beauty and the possibility and create stories about it. I hope to continue to do that and think it is important to find new meaning and create new myths.”

Stop by the M.I.B. Gallery to check out Reed’s exhibit Fridays and Saturdays from 4-8 p.m. through Dec. 10.

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