b. 1961 Memphis, TN
Lives and works in Memphis, TN
Brian Russellʼs artistic endeavors began in the late seventies when he started exploring black and white photography. Concentrating on the human form Russell pursued photography as his primary expressive medium until his introduction to sculpture in 1981. Under Lawrence Anthonyʼs instruction at Rhodes College, Russell began to be fascinated with what his hands could create. Beginning with wood and stone carving, he soon progressed to fabricating large freestanding sculptures from scrap steel and industrial debris.
Russell spent the year after graduating from Rhodes fashioning welded sculptures in his motherʼs backyard. At this time he began also to build furniture, both of wood and of steel. Furniture and functional items provided capital for the establishment of his first studio in midtown Memphis in August 1985. Shortly after starting this business, Russell became aware of the creative possibilities of working with hot forged metals. Using the tools and techniques of traditional blacksmiths allowed the shaping of metal into forms matching his creative vision. For the next nine years Russell worked in his studio on Broad Avenue, building everything from fire screens to monumental gates, from sculpture to lighting. Mastering new techniques and materials stimulated his creative vision, each new work allowing a synthesis of ideas. Driven to incorporate color into his work, Russell began experimenting with fused glass and pate-de-verre. Initially focused on glass vessels and fixtures, Russell laid the foundation for subsequent mixed media sculpture. His visual vocabulary was derived from his travels, nature and the human form.
In 1994 Russell moved his studio to 15 acres in the countryside northeast of Memphis. During the next six years, Russell produced an exceptional volume of work, including four commissions for monumental architectural sculptures. Satisfied with his mastery of forging technique, Russell began to leave the more linear forms driven by blacksmithing and to expand his vocabulary to include more color and volumetric shapes. In 1998 Russell decided to reintroduce glass into his work in a more sculptural way Using a scientific approach, and with much experimentation and patience, Russell was now able to realize his vision of combining glass and metals to create new expressions in his work. Still, the techniques of fusing lacked the crisp sculptural qualities he desired.
On a visit to New Zealand in 1999 Russell was exposed to a lost wax glass casting technique that produced exciting results. Two more years of hard work and research resulted in the current state of Russellʼs art: a fusion of forged metals and cast glass unique to his sculpture. A confidence in technique and agility with materials now allows him to fully exploit his creative talents. The transparency and optical nature of the colored cast glass have an inherent emotional effect that enable the artist to speak quietly, yet powerfully about his ideas on the nature of reality and purity of form. The effect of the metal forgings, synergized with the images presented by the vivid glass castings give life to his sculptures.
Since 2004 Russell has been working once again with formed and fabricated sheet bronze forms, as well as forged aluminum. The bronze shapes flow smoothly into the glass castings, giving the effect of unity. The metal work gives scale and structure to the glass. 2006 dawned with new explorations into adhesively joining pieces of glass, thus further enlarging the repertoire.
Finely Cast, solo exhibition, Baum Gallery of Fine Art, University of Central Arkansas
Lines and Spheres, solo exhibition, David Lusk Gallery, Memphis, TN
New Sculpture, solo exhibition at Tobin Hewett Gallery, Louisville, KY
SOFA Chicago, represented by Jerald Melberg Gallery
Earthspace 2005, outdoor sculpture , Arlington, TN
Hot Glass in the Blue Grass, Lexington Art League, merit award
Flowers and Vessels, Eleonore Austerer Gallery, Palm Desert, CA, with Roberto Azank
The Art of Contemporary Blacksmithing, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville, KY
Hemispheres and Gestures, Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, NC
A Glass Act, solo exhibition, Function Art Gallery, Chicago, IL
Hemispheres, solo exhibition, David Lusk Gallery, Memphis, TN
SOFA Chicago, represented by Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, NC
Hemispheres, solo exhibition, Tobin-Hewett Gallery, Louisville, KY
New Work, group exhibition, River Gallery, Chattanooga, TN
EarthSpace 1, solo outdoor exhibition, Arlington, TN
ArtForm, West Palm Beach , represented by Jerald Melberg Gallery
Gallery Selections, group exhibition, David Lusk Gallery, Memphis, TN
New Sculpture, solo exhibtion, David Lusk Gallery, Memphis,TN
Best Of Tennessee Art Competition, Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, purchase award
New Works, group exhibition, David Lusk Gallery, Memphis, TN
Made for Use, invitational, National Ornamental Metal Museum, Memphis, TN
New Works, solo exhibition, Limn Gallery, San Francisco, CA
National Invitational, National Ornamental Metal Museum, Memphis,TN
Chicago International New Art Forms Expo, Kurts Bingham Gallery
Introductions, solo exhibition, Kurts Bingham Gallery
Form, Fantasy, Function IV, Kurts Bingham Gallery
TACA 1992 Biennial, , Nashville; Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; merit award.
Form, Fantasy, Function III, Kurts Bingham Gallery
Selections from the Metals Museum, Schering Plough Corporation, Memphis, TN
Life Support, One Market Square, San Francisco, CA
The Nouveau Tradition, National Ornamental Metal Museum, Memphis, TN
Recent Works, solo exhibition, Clough Hanson Gallery, Rhodes College
American Craft Council 10th Annual Fundraiser, Christie’s, New York, NY
House Jewellry II, National Ornamental Metal Museum, Memphis, TN
Flowers and Art, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, TN