MINNEAPOLIS–January 26 through March 9, 2013, Gamut Gallery will show photography, sculpture, taxidermy, painting, digital arts and costumery by Bethany Birnie. This prolific collection spans her personal post-Iraq experience, in vignettes of reveries made real. Birnie creates daydreams from the blueprints of her imagination, in her upcoming exhibit: Make.Believe. Opening Night commences Saturday, January 26, at 7:00 p.m. with special live-modeling of Birnie’s sculptural costumes, each a blend of the demure and outrageous. The continuing exhibit will be crowned by a unicorn skull of bone and mixed materials, installed along side projected therianthropic portraiture. Another installation piece features lovingly memorialized animals that Birnie taxidermizes by hand. The diverse collection also includes smaller prints for the beginning art collector.
Make.Believe. depicts intense longings of a soldier, facing extreme conditions in Iraq. Birnie’s aquatic series was forged in a sweltering humvee in Iraq; beneath full-body armor, she dreamt endlessly of swimming freely in water. Her harsh eighteen-month deployment spent as a combat machine gunner, was the catalyst to her whimsical dreamscapes. Her experience as a soldier revealed how precious lives can be marginalized as expendable. These deep realizations found redress in procuring animal roadway victims and conducting the intimate, autopsy-like taxidermic procedure. The magic Birnie deals in gained a life of its own as she began to find tiny bullets in one squirrel and then another. The bullet installation weaves reality and mystery together so effectively that the intention extends even beyond the artist’s reach.
“The notion that I have the power to change the world around me, into whatever I wish, is my main inspiration. I’m driven by the fantastical moments, when my daydream has been seamlessly recreated and lives before me… While on convoys to Baghdad, the utopia I would drift to was so vibrant and beautiful that when I returned home I began a mission to recreate it. Filled with friendly animals, brilliant colors and peaceful women, my daydreams embody the things I lacked in life, specifically on my journey as a female soldier.”
Bethany Birnie joined the Army National Guard in 2002. As she began her Fine Arts major at the University of Minnesota, she was deployed to Iraq. Upon returning, Birnie sought out a more structured degree. She graduated in 2009 from the University of Minnesota, with a double major in Fine Arts and Strategic Communication. She went on to complete a portfolio program at Miami Ad School in 2010. Later that year she was granted an Art Director internship in Amsterdam at the firm: One Big Agency. Since then she has worked freelance and as a full-time Art Director at two advertising agencies. She is working currently as an Art Director at Space 150. The Make.Believe. exhibit will be the debut of her personal works in a gallery setting.