We had the good fortune of connecting with E. Garrett Bryant and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi E. Garrett, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
As a former competitive whitewater kayaker, and someone with a high threshold for risk, I don’t spend much time thinking about risk in creative enterprises like making art. I’m not going to die if I make an experimental video, and I won’t lose my rent money either. It may never be shown publicly, and that’s fine with me. I don’t make art for money. That said, I’m very interested in discovering emerging forms and building out affects that exist, but have not yet been articulated in language or materials. So in order to build new forms, it requires a lot of experimentation, trial and error, and tolerance for failure in the studio. I try and save money with materials through a salvage intensive process. I also try and use processes that cut down on waste, like additive processes such as 3D printing. Those are some ways I help mitigate my creative risk.
Overall, the biggest “risks”, if you want to call them that, are engaging with obscenity, creating large scale forms, and an artistic process that rejects commodification of objects. So I have to find an another way to make a living if I’m not selling my work. Also, the work I do make, is not probably not archival, and sometimes it offends people.
But I’m comfortable with risks. I’ll probably take some more risks soon.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Ooof. I make some pretty radical art. There aren’t many artists who work like I do.
I start with the premise that we are constantly performing our identity through materials and behaviors. We signify our interests in outdoor sports and affluence by wearing brands like Patagonia or Arc’teryx. And even through the sports we select or locations, we can speak to privilege, culture, access, etc. But perhaps more importantly for me, we signify our sexuality and gender through our clothing, objects, and actions.
This is where my work starts. I began working this way because I wanted to make work that changed the way people would look at the world around them. I guess you could hyperbolically say that I wanted to make revolutionary art. In the beginning, I just realized I was perpetuating and reifying toxic systems of patriarchy and capitalism, and I needed to upend my practices if I really did want to make revolutionary art. Along the way I’ve received a lot of push-back and vitriol, but I think that’s been good for me. It helped me understand how people were stereotyping me and my gender, and how I could better communicate my issues, art, and aims.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m new to Denver, so I don’t have my favorites yet. Still discovering things. That said, I’ve been seduced by Pon Pon Bar and Lane Meyer Projects gallery. I enjoy Long Table Brewhouse and their Brass Monkey beer (make more Grapefruit Monkey!). And if you have any recommendations for the best Bloody Mary buffet in town, I’d love to know!
Because of my interests in the outdoors and horror films, we’d probably go hiking somewhere in Estes Park and stop by the Stanley Hotel and drink a Jack on the rocks in honor of Jack Torrance.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I just wanted to thank Marsha Mack for helping introduce me to all the great people of the Denver art scene. Also my parents for being supportive of me, when they had no idea what I was doing and leaving behind a stable career for the unpredictable world of visual art and academia.
Michael T. Workman John B. Lake