From the very beginning, Brandon Waybright was energetic, vibrant, and fascinating when he came to visit and guest lecture for the Fine Arts Seminar class back in February. You knew, immediately, that he was passionate and on fire for his work and his place in the world. He began his talk with illustrating how important and influential the place you grew up in becomes in your work, and makes itself present as time goes on. I loved how he shared with us his first memory of visiting a museum at the age of nineteen, and how one look at a van Gogh painting changed the very way he saw. He explained to us, in detail, his goals for himself in life, and in his work. There were five rules:
1. Create the surprise in the everyday
2. Amplify the unspoken and the unusual
3. Awaken the public by disrupting the expected
4. Facilitate moments of community
5. Find strange people and celebrate them
Brandon shared with us his journey from graphic design and promotion to bookmaking and combining the visual with written word, until finally discovering one of the most fascinating things in his life: the power of scent. From that point on, he delved into a whole new body of work; exploring the archival properties of scent, evoking memories, creating a scent diary, the possibilities of creating entirely new scents by simply mixing two, and even charting and mapping the world by scent. It was a project that consumed the vast majority if his time, energy, and fascination, and altered the course of the rest of his journey all the way up to the present day. He became enraptured with Synesthesia, a condition that crosses signals to the brain from each of the senses, resulting in people who can taste colors, or see feelings, for example. His major senior thesis revolved around fully experiencing a color; the smell of it, the taste of it, the sound of it, and the feeling of it. Through his work he found a way to delve into every property of a color, encouraging people to find the missing connections between the things that are very nearly there. “Almost. Always. Nearly. There.” he says. He fiercely loves encountering something that he fully doesn’t understand, so that he may whole heatedly delve into it. He spoke also of how the digital world has drastically changed the way we create, view, share, and experience art, loosing a part of our spirituality every time a bit of our life is transferred digitally.
Aside from asserting that he desperately wished he had Synesthesia himself, Brandon left us with one last final message; that he absolutely loves loosing control during the creation of his work. He points out that that at some point during its creation, the work becomes its own being, and when you let go, you give God the opportunity to come in and make His own mark. When you let go, the unexpected may happen.
Having Brandon speak to us was a true delight. He brought a refreshing and vibrant new take on what art can be in our lives, and how we can truly connect with our world, our senses, and our Creator, by just looking at the world a little differently and challenging the norm. I hope to always carry with me his enthusiasm and passion in my own life, and in the life of the work I create.