meet an artist mondayBrenda Gonzalez (she/her) is a stitching-forward mixed media artist working in sculpture, collage, and animation. Though working in abstract forms of planes and textures, her choice of materials and the narrative foundations of her objects are intentional in their excavation and elevation of humble housewares into vessels of transcendent memory. Thinking back to the qualities of the cheap but cheerful thrift and dollar-store bath mats, decor, household supplies, and textiles of her East Los Angeles home, Gonzalez applies a skill set of reconfiguration and de-and reconstruction to create new, expressive, architectural and biomorphic sculptures. In this way the act of stitching activates both literal and metaphorical dimensions, as Gonzalez explores ideas of home, but in a transitional manner that includes the comforts and faults of the present as well as the past. The current Artist-in-Residence at Arts at Blue Roof’s “A Room of One’s Own” residency in South L.A., where an exhibition of her recent and ongoing sculptural projects will open on Friday, May 5.

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Brenda Gonzalez: Roomie, 2020

L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?

BRENDA GONZALEZ: I have enjoyed making things for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I would constantly draw and make clothes and sets for my dolls, and sometimes it feels as if my current work is an extension of what I used to do all those years ago. There wasn’t a specific point in time when I knew I was an artist. I became comfortable considering myself an artist very slowly after realizing how much art, especially sculpture, I kept making throughout the last ten years.


What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?

My work is about exploring the idea of Home through sculpture, printmaking, collage, and animation. My works embody anxieties, memories, and hopes surrounding my idea of home, one that is based on my experiences growing up in East L.A. in a relatively low-income household. In particular, my sculptures use objects I buy from dollar stores, thrift stores, and hardware stores, or repurpose from my own home, to investigate ideas such as “making do” or “getting by.” I try to imbue mundane or forgotten objects with new life. I enjoy playing with different textures, imagery, and materials to literally and figuratively stitch together this exploration of home.

Gonzalez Brenda To gather 2023

Brenda Gonzalez: To Gather, 2023

Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?

Yes, I received my MFA from UC Davis. I also studied studio art in a post-baccalaureate program at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. As an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College, I majored in Japanese and Studio Art. I wanted to explore my interest in art by developing my skills in painting and drawing. Eventually, I discovered sculpture and printmaking and wanted to know more. After graduating from Dartmouth I sought more opportunities to continue learning about art, including an internship at Dartmouth’s Studio Art Department, and I felt that art school could provide me with the structure I would need going forward. Going to art school allowed me to figure out what an art practice could start to look like and helped someone like me, who is introverted, get to know other artists such as the professors, visiting artists, and peers in my program.


Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?

I live and work in L.A. because East Los Angeles is my home. I grew up in East L.A.  but moved away for my studies. I graduated from UC Davis in 2020 and finally found a sense of stability moving back home. When I was studying in other parts of the country I explored the idea of home from afar and now I am exploring the idea of home with proximity. My proximity to home has helped me generate so many new ideas. Although L.A. has always been my home, I am still getting to know some of the many art institutions and resources L.A. has to offer. Last year I began volunteering at the Craft Contemporary, for example, and that has been a very rewarding experience so far!

07 Gonzalez Brenda AfraidtoUnfurl 2020

Brenda Gonzalez: Afraid to Unfurl, 2020

When was your first show?

My first show was as an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College for my senior thesis in 2015, but my first time showing work on my own was in 2016 at the Barrows Rotunda in the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth. I showed three sculptural pieces of varying scales made of steel armatures covered in metallic-looking triangular forms made of chipboard. The rotunda space is quite special because it is located at the front of the building and allows passersby to see sculptural work from all views as intended. I remember feeling proud to see my work lit in that space as I walked by late at night. I also remember that leading up to the installation of the work I struggled a lot to complete the work on time. I received a lot of logistical help and overall support from my fellow Dartmouth Studio Art department interns and still feel super grateful for their help.


When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?

My upcoming show, Creature Comforts, will show at Blue Roof Studios from May 5-31. This is the culminating show for my residency through Arts at Blue Roof called “A Room of One’s Own.” The first three months of this residency have given me the time and space to play with my work and make large sculptural pieces again after a long time. Arts at Blue Roof has provided me with so many wonderful resources and valuable mentorship. I will show the sculptures I made during my time in this residency. The opening reception for my show is Friday, May 5th, 6-8pm, at Blue Roof Studios.

01 Gonzalez Brenda TheCollector 2020

Brenda Gonzalez: The Collector, 2020

What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?

I am drawn to the work of Do Ho Suh and Heidi Bucher for their explorations of place and memory, and it would be great to be in conversation with them.


Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?

I often listen to pop music, usually K-pop, Latino pop, or whatever songs are on the radio. When I get nostalgic I listen to Mexican pop and pop-rock from the mid-2000s. I also listen to podcasts like “Hidden Brain” and “The Happiness Lab.”


Website and social media handles, please!


IG: @brendagonzalezstudio



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