By Russell Borne
WRECKED: What is your story? How did you first get involved in art?
Russell Borne: You know, just a few weeks ago I asked my mother about my childhood, and what she remembers about me. She told me the most interesting thing. At the age of one or two, I became completely content sitting by my self on the floor just examining things or building things. I didnt have that crying need for affection like most children; I was just as happy on the floor with a pencil as I was in her arms. Art has been many things for me, some include a mother. I use art to understand the world around me, painting as a mechanism of observation, and a narrative of life. Raised in South East Portland Oregon, my art career didn’t start until moving to Corvallis. Circumstances of life forced me to cling to art as the thing that could make sense of the world. I am now finishing my degree in fine arts at Oregon State University. The focus of my art career is in painting and mixed media drawing while doing extensive outside work as a designer. The work addresses anxieties or insecurities, both personal and historical.
WRECKED: What does art mean to you in a spiritual context?
RB: Spiritually speaking, I feel my art is both a soap box and an image of worship, with no distinction between the natural and the sacred. I dont think art as separate from life, as some of the romantic artists saw it, people who viewed art as something pure which transported one to some other place and time. I see art but as a mirror of life. I believe in art as a mechanism for change. When one is put in a circumstance of contemplation and praxis is formed which creates a more lasting effect than if one was to just explain spirituality.
WRECKED: What are your thoughts regarding what is happening in the church and its return to the use of art as worship in the institutional setting? What would you like to see in the future in regards to fine arts in church?
RB: I fear that the arts movement in the institutional setting of church is slowly doing the same thing that it did with music. It’s becoming an uninspired clichd group of copied images that’s stuck in the same allegories and narratives spoken for the past thousand years. I speak harshly because I feel very passionate about this, that every artist has there own experiences to share, that the plagiarism of scripture to make a compelling parable is a copout to the unique story that Jesus has with you. Because of the nature of visual arts and the artists who take on such a role I don’t think it will get to the extremity of my description, but my legitimacy is based on the observation of a Christian subculture who seem to be following the pack just as much as the other subcultures.
WRECKED: To you, what is beauty, and where do you find it?
RB: Beauty then is a difficult thing. We live in such a culture where beauty is obscured and commoditized so that anyone deemed beautiful becomes an icon of worship. The evidence is so overwhelming, men and women with all sorts of eating disorders stemming from the stigma of beauty. In my mind, physical beauty has lost its value almost all together. For me, I find beauty in the dark places of honesty and vulnerability. Beauty then becomes a very rare thing to behold. The beauty that Jesus’ message describes is an ugly beauty of broken messed up people who encounter the beauty of God.
WRECKED: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to explore their artistic ability?
RB: My advice to that artist is to make art, lots of it. Development through repetition, exploration, and the acute communication of the personal voice and hand that you as an artist hold, is going to set you apart as beautiful. The other thing is to find a group of artists to be a community with; these people are going to bring opportunity as well as insight into the betterment of your work.
WRECKED: What are your goals for the future?
RB: Well, since you ask, I am going to New York this June to start my artistic career. I have just finished my undergraduate and now am planning on going to grad school. My plan then is to spend my time in New York developing my art more definitively as well as gaining life experience being on my own, and then next year, I’ll start applying for grad schools.
No matter what happens professionally with my art, I plan on building that artistic community I spoke of earlier, a community of Christ followers who want to impact the community through art and art making.
Click on any image to view a larger version with Russell’s comments
Russell Borne is a graduate of Fine Arts from Oregon State University. His work has been displayed at Fairbanks Gallery (west) in 2007, Yaquina Art Gallery, Newport Oregon in 2006, and various private collections. You can visit his online gallery here.