After a 40-year break, Terry Browder returned to the studio in 2018. This spring, a new exhibition of his work, Art in Context, is on-view for the first time at the Center for Contemporary Arts. The Center’s executive director, Rebecca Bridges, talked to Terry about his life and art.
RB: Abilene knows your design work through the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses, but may be less familiar with your fine art. Can you tell me about your background, how you began, and how you re-started making art?
TB: I have been interested in making things and aesthetics all my life. In high school, a friend and I decided that we wanted oil paint sets from the Sears Catalog for Christmas. We had no idea how to use them or where to begin, but someone suggested that we take “art lessons” in a neighboring town. I majored in art in college and have a BFA in painting, a secondary teaching certificate, and a Masters in Education in art supervision from Abilene Christian University. I was heavily immersed in painting and studio work during those college years and had a senior solo show in undergrad and a two man show with faculty member and artist Jeff Tabor at the end of my graduate studies.
The demands of making a living, family and fate carried me to other endeavors, but I always pursued creative type work as well. I always knew I would paint again, but I think I never really stopped painting in my heart and my head. In 2018, I decided it was time to pick up a brush and start painting again after a 40-year break!
RB: Your paintings are complex and thoughtful. Can you talk a little bit about the concepts behind your subjects and process, and the inspiration for your works?
TB: I have always been interested in history. I grew up on a farm in Southwestern Oklahoma, near Fort Sill, where the Comanche and other Plains tribes’ reservation was located. When I started painting again in 2018, I did a lot of research about the Comanches, who 150 years ago were chasing Buffalo down present-day Sayles Boulevard. Starting to paint again was invigorating, and I realized I had a voice and a lot to say and my interest in history and my roots provided a story. A trademark of my work is that I paint on antique documents, a relic from the time and story depicted. I have developed a distinct spiral, linear motif in my work that is akin to Van Gogh’s hatching and cross hatching designs. Some observers have said these marks are akin to topography maps. I grew up on a farm, so I call it “plowing the fields.” The spiral motif is found in almost all prehistoric art cultures.
My hope for “Art in Context” is for the Abilene community to see and understand me as also a painter/ artist. By partnering my paintings with furniture and accessories, I’m creating vignettes that will help transition the viewer’s concept of me. By relating the paintings to furniture pieces and other interior design elements, a viewer will envision the piece of art in their home or business. Thus, “Art in Context.”
Art in Context will be on-view in Gallery 3 at the Center for Contemporary Arts April 14 – June 4. Reception: April 23 | 6-8 p.m. Full interview available with the exhibition.
Contributed By The Center For Contemporary Arts