Muncie native and Ball State alumna Braydee Euliss is using her sculpting degree to create jewelry. Euliss is also a gallery manager at Gordy Fine Art and Framing Co. after graduating in 2011. Lauren Reber // Photo Provided
Alumna uses connections, experience to impact Muncie's art scene
Muncie native and Ball State alumna Braydee Euliss is taking her life experiences and passion for art and creation to influence the Muncie community.
Euliss graduated in 2011 with a degree in sculpture after her original major of metals piqued her interest in working with a variety of other materials.
Although her art classes and experience making jewelry began in high school, she took opportunities before that in other classes to turn regular projects into creative outlets.
“I was developing my own art course curriculum in a way without knowing that was something I needed to pay attention to. I just took every creative project and pushed it to a level that I was interested [in],” Euliss said. “It was work that I always enjoyed, that I buried myself in that allowed me to creative problem solve [and] to do all of these things that were working my brain in a way that the traditional academic setting wasn’t.”
She received a presidential scholarship from Ball State and decided to enroll as an undecided major, but Freshman Orientation soon led her in a direction.
“Whoever was talking to our group at the time said if you are an art major or an architecture major, you’re gonna follow these folks and they’re gonna talk to you about the portfolio review process. And I looked at my mom and I said ‘you can go to college for art?’ We’re gonna follow those people. Can we do that?’” Euliss said.
Her last semester introduced her to social practice work, an approach to art making that focuses on social engagement and collaboration. Since then, Euliss' involvement in numerous Muncie organizations and projects has been guided by a concept commonly referred to as Creative Placemaking
She started as a framer at Gordy Fine Art and Framing Co. in 2007 and was promoted to Gallery Manager after graduating from Ball State in 2011.
As gallery manager, Euliss works with Gordy’s 25 represented artists and helps develop exhibition programming. New exhibits are produced 10 months out of the year, and opening receptions coincide with First Thursday ArtsWalks in downtown Muncie.
“Some of those shows are relegated to our represented artists, but a growing number of those shows we’re using to reach farther out into the community and to showcase work that is not something that our patrons have been exposed to a lot or work that is coming from more emerging artists,” Euliss said.
The up-and-coming artists that Euliss gets to work with is among her favorite parts of the job.
“That has been really rewarding for me," she said. "It’s fun, but it also feels like I’ve been given an opportunity to help Muncie’s art scene see some things they wouldn’t have otherwise, so I’ve just run with it.”
Aside from working at Gordy, Euliss also designs and sells jewelry from her line WORN, at the store.
“All of my work is sort of more sculptural, i feel like it’s more like wearable sculpture," Euliss said. "I adopted the 'start where you are, use what you have, do what you can' philosophy, and jewelry made sense.
She was initially skeptical about how her jewelry would be received, but she has been blown away by the encouragement and support. Being an employee of Gordy gives her the opportunity to have conversations with customers about her work that she wouldn’t be able to have otherwise.
“[Being in the shop] helps me learn a lot about what people like and what people don’t like and why they’re drawn to my work ... it’s been a really good educational experience for me to be exposed to people of all ages who are reacting openly about my work,” Euliss said.
Her involvement in the community throughout her time in Muncie has allowed her to create new opportunities for other artists as well.
Euliss helps with curating and programming for Final Friday, an event held four times per year at the David Owsley Museum of Art. Euliss sees this program as a way for artists to meet each other and engage with each other's craft.
“I try really hard to connect people to opportunities and to other people who can provide them with opportunities to build a culture of appreciation for the arts in Munice in a younger demographic than most of the other arts organizations are currently catering to," she said.
Traci Lutton, Interim Vice President for Economic Development at the Muncie-Delaware County Economic Development Alliance, met Euliss through Final Friday.
The two worked to curate and present Pecha Kucha night, the Japanese word for chit-chat. An artist talks about 20 different things for 20 seconds each, such as what they’re inspired by or a piece of their art.
“I felt inspired by Braydee. She has creative and innovative thinking and approaches to the work that she does, and so it was very inspiring to be around someone who’s quite a bit younger than me but so connected and grounded," Lutton said. "It’s such a cliche to say wise beyond years, but that’s really how I felt.”
Euliss' passion for Muncie motivates a lot of how she picks and chooses where to spend time and energy as much as her interest in visual and creative expression.
“Without that passion, I don’t know that I would have been able to make all of the things happen that I feel like I’ve had a hand in making happen. No one’s paying you to do that work. it has to be because you believe in it,” Euliss said. “I just can’t stand to know that I have the skills and the expertise and the connections to help a situation and just say 'nope, I’m good.' That is not my nature.”
Whether it's through museum exhibits or her handmade jewelry, Euliss' contributions to Muncie's art scene are not just like any other job. It's a passion project that continues to be an inspiration for the community.