Popsicle sticks, lamp shades and TV antennas.
Former Tyler Junior College graduate, Bryan Pettigrew, uses these everyday objects as materials and inspiration when creating his pieces of art.
“I go to thrift stores and find different items to use for $20,” he said. “I love textures, fabrics and color. And I may not know what the objects are, but I have a connection with them.”
Pettigrew’s exhibit, Blockhead Alchemy, will be on display Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. until Nov. 19 in the TJC Wise Auditorium Art Gallery. Art Instructor Derrick White said it was Pettigrew’s commitment and way of seeing things that made him stand out the most.
“Bryan would make monumental sculptures and fantastic characters,” White said. “He even made a life-size warrior out of popsicle sticks. Any day object would be turned into art.”
Department Chair Chris Stewart said Pettigrew would make objects, and that is a really hard thing to do.
“He has a lot of talent and his art is very interesting,” Stewart said. “His work was always big and ambitious. There are so many different things that are not meant to make art that he has control over. He really enjoys what he’s doing.”
Pettigrew said the instructors contacted him a few months ago about doing a show.
“I recently graduated in May from UNT in Denton, and I miss being back at TJC,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I was ready to do a solo show but my teachers were pushing me into doing it.”
Stewart said the instructors build a good relationship with their students in order to see how they progress.
“It is like a family atmosphere here and a lot of students find their calling,” Stewart said. “It comes together for them. When they move on, they usually drop us an email to show us how things are going. And one of the cool things about what we do is being able to see that we played some part of it. It’s not the money. It’s when the student comes back.”
Pettigrew said he incorporated a few of his old and new pieces of art into the show in order to show progression.
“It took quite a while to come up with the pieces for the gallery,” Pettigrew said. “I wanted to show how my artwork has changed over time and how it went from 2-D pieces to 3-D pieces. When I make art, I will put a piece in a
specific spot and then move it out of the way. Wherever I would put that piece turned out to be the perfect place to keep it.”
Along with the show, Pettigrew said he is putting on a performance during his reception and artist talk at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 in the TJC Wise Auditorium Art Gallery.
“At a performance, I turn myself into art and present it in front of people,” he said. “I’m keeping a lot of the details a secret.”
Pettigrew said he took a class called Hybrid Forms, at the University of North Texas in Denton, that changed his way of thinking about art and performing. He said the class also helped him to become more comfortable in front of people.
“I am very shy, but I tried the class and it worked for some reason,” he said. “The class taught me that art does not have to be just drawing and painting.”
Pettigrew said that one of the main features of his performance is the appearance of his character Blockhead. He said the idea came from his personal transformation throughout life.
“I have been loosing weight and my face has changed,” Pettigrew said. “I look in the mirror and question my identity. I think all people question themselves and that’s where I developed my cartoon character Blockhead.”
Growing up he was planning to become a cartoonist. He said that while in school, he was impressed with a lot of abstract art.
“I started creating art based off of feelings and emotions,” Pettigrew said. “Other student’s artwork was cohesive while mine was everywhere. But it changed over time and is more controlled now.”
Currently, Pettigrew said he will continue to do shows and hopefully get a job at an art gallery. He said he has learned that in art, anything goes.
“I always had goofy ideas that I would never think worked,” Pettigrew said. “Having random thoughts is a good thing and you should try things that you would never try before. Don’t pick what you’re used to, but try something new.”