Product Configuration, 2012 - Black, Brown and white solo traveler lids,arranged on the wall and affixed with satin pins Grounds For Removal, 2012 - Espresso Dust and Water rubbed into the wall The Artspace Piece, 2012 – Coffee stir sticks woven in place and held by tension Sleeve loops, 2012 – coffee cup sleeves stacked one inside of another, tensioned with braided aluminum cable A Thin Green Line, 2012 – Iced beverage straws liberated from local coffee shops Had Sticks Done Traveled, 2012 - Artist made Travel Crate with custom wiring, A crate used during the Have Sticks Will Travel World Tour 2009-2010 is used to anchor work within the gallery.
The following is excerpted from Director of Exhibitions Lia Newman’s exhibition essay:
“To create the main components of his solo exhibition at Artspace, To Weave. To Stack. To Stain., Brilliant worked simultaneously on a number of projects, each utilizing a unique coffee shop related item. Brilliant notes that he approaches the gallery as a blank sheet of paper. Each material used, whether a wooden stirrer, a plastic straw, or a cardboard sleeve, makes a mark in space that ultimately contributes to one larger work of art. It is important for Brilliant that he createmovement throughout the gallery. For this particular installation, Brilliant opens the gallery with two large “targets” installed in the entranceway of the gallery. Product Configuration, comprised of several rings of black, brown, and white plastic solo traveler lids, evokes Richard Long’s series of rock floor pieces exemplified by Blue Sky Circle (2002), or Andy Goldworthy’s Pebbles Around a Hole (1987). Brilliant’s sculptures are elevated to the gallery walls, with both circles centered around corners. The work on the left disappears around the corner and leads the viewer into the space. Two additional circles, entitled Grounds for Removal, are visible in the distance, another tactic intended to lead the viewer around and into the gallery.
To create Grounds for Removal, two concentric circles on the gallery’s brick wall, Brilliant stained the wall with espresso dust and water. These “mud drawings” are homages to Richard Long, recalling the series of temporal River Avon Mud Drawings the artist made in the 1980s. Such pieces exemplify Brilliant’s inclination toward items that represent disposable material culture (such as coffee grinds and plastic lids) over more nature-based choices by predecessors Long and Goldsworthy (such as mud, twigs, and stones).
To Weave. To Stack. To Stain. also features Sleeve Loops, an intricate, curvilinear installation of stacked cardboard coffee sleeves. This suspended work winds and weaves into the gallery space, intersecting the coffee stirrer installation. While at first glance Brilliant’s choice of materials may seem gimmicky, a longer discussion with the artist reveals careful consideration and analysis of these everyday objects. For example, most people regard the cardboard coffee sleeve simply as a device to prevent one from burning his or her hand. Brilliant approaches these sleeves in a completely different way, however. He is familiar with the shape and structure of sleeves from all of the chain and local coffee shops. Some sleeves are better for printing and others are better for stacking. For example, Brilliant notes that illy espresso sleeves have a double wall that retains a more square shape, making the sleeves unsuitable for stacked works like Sleeve Loops. Starbucks changed the shape of their sleeves in the last few years; the old shape is memorialized in Brilliant’s printmaking works. All of this knowledge has been useful, especially in determining items to utilize (Brilliant buys rather than swipes most of these items now, in part because he needs considerably larger quantities in order to create his increasingly complex installations).
It is the hand (and vision) of the artist that is responsible for transforming functional, everyday objects into fodder for artmaking. Brilliant, inspired by manufactured, mass-produced items in his environment, has focused on coffee shop paraphernalia. Perhaps the works he has become best known for are constructed from thousands of wooden coffee stirrers. To create pieces such as The Artspace Piece, Brilliant weaves the stirrers together, relying solely on tension. Wrapping the center column and branching out, the installation builds on Brilliant’s last exhibition, a three-person exhibition at Flanders Gallery, coincidentally also located in Raleigh, NC. Each installation is an extension of the past; in this case, Brilliant literally incorporated woven sections from the previous show into his new exhibition. The reuse of materials is prevalent in Brilliant’s work. In To Weave. To Stack. To Stain. the artist even reuses a shipping crate. A column of woven sticks now emerges from the crate. Once a purely functional object used to transport materials to and from exhibition venues, the crate now anchors the installation in the space.Brilliant’s manipulation of these materials demonstrates the legitimacy of non-traditional materials in creating installations of substance.”