Professor reignites his passion for art

<p>Religious studies associate professor Jeffery Brackett displays some of his artwork at his home. Brackett has created over 100 pieces. <strong>Reagan Allen, DN</strong></p>

Religious studies associate professor Jeffery Brackett displays some of his artwork at his home. Brackett has created over 100 pieces. Reagan Allen, DN

One small ink dot near the center of a blank white page, followed by another small dot near the bottom and a line connecting the two. For Jeff Brackett, associate professor of religious studies, that’s what it takes to create his original, freeform drawings that now hang in several locations throughout Muncie.

Religious studies associate professor Jeffery Brackett displays some of his artwork at his home. Brackett has created over 100 pieces. Reagan Allen, DN

“One thing I enjoy about Brackett’s work is its novelty,” said Juli Thorson, a philosophy professor and Brackett’s colleague. “There are artists in the past that have similar approaches that Brackett uses for inspiration, but, nonetheless, his work is unique. They’re the kind of work that strikes you from across the room.”

Brackett has only been making art since October 2016, but has since published his own coloring book and been selected for six juried art shows and held three solo shows. 

“I’m fascinated by the power associated with transforming simple black-ink lines into complex designs,” Brackett said. “I try to express this power in my pattern-heavy designs, which themselves show the lasting impact of my education: years of architectural drawing in high school, a year as an art major and my study of religion, especially Hinduism and Buddhism.”

When gathering supplies at Art Mart to create a comic for one of his classes in 2016, Karen Fisher, the owner of Art Mart, told Brackett about Inktober, a Facebook event where people post new ink drawings each day of October. 

Brackett drew inspiration for his first ink piece from artists’ hand-drawn mandalas, and after he posted his first one, people continuously sent him praise for his work. 

“I was really surprised by how much people liked the first piece I did,” Brackett said. “So I continued to draw them throughout October, posting them all to Facebook. I tried to make each mandala different from the previous ones I had made. Today, that first mandala I made is still my favorite and it is framed and hanging in my house.”

Religious studies associate professor Jeffery Brackett displays some of his artwork at his home. Reagan Allen, DN

Since then, Brackett has made many other series including “Power Lines,” a series of images created solely out of lines; “Controlled Chaos,” freeform work; and “Winks,” watercolor art with white ink.

“Jeff’s art is a combination of careful planning, controlled accidents and spontaneity,” Thorson said. “In his current work, he frequently begins with a water media wash that is only partly planned. He lets the water media develop shapes, and then uses those shapes to suggest segments, lines and patterns.

“His ‘Power Lines’ series is merely semi-regular or squiggly lines one a page, but viewed from a distance, they undulate space. You want to hold your breath when you see them.”

Currently, Brackett has artwork hanging in Minnetrista’s annual Juried Art Show, at the Guardian Brewing Company and at The Cup. 

For Minnetrista’s show, Brackett submitted three works to be chosen from, and all three of his pieces were selected, which he said is rare. He also said that two out of his three received honorable mention awards. 

At Guardian, Brackett’s show is titled “Red and Blue (State’s of Mind)” and includes 22 drawings of mostly larger line pieces that have a subtle political message, while his work on display at  The Cup is a mix of newer pieces and line drawings. 

Recently, he has also been experimenting with watercolors, and a few of those pieces are included at The Cup.

“When I did painting in college, I was not comfortable with it, but then I took a class over the summer, and it really helped,” Brackett said. “I really started playing with watercolors because I wanted to get over the fear I had of color. I wanted to learn how to do it.”

He is also thinking about creating a second and third volume for his coloring book, “Color Me Paradoxical: Insanely Detailed Freehand Drawings to Help You Relax.” 

“I created my coloring book because I had friends telling me that a lot of the stuff I do would be great for coloring, but also because my work is different than the computer generated designs,” Brackett said. “I tried to seperate my drawings into detailed and not so detailed so that people would have a mix, but I really had trouble deciding what would go into the 40-page book. In the end, I hired someone to put the book together for me because I gave up, and I let her help narrow down the final selections.”

Brackett also brings his passion for art into his research, reading and writing and is always looking for a chance to attend another art class because he learns better with hands on activities. 

“I just want to keep drawing, really, because the more you do, the better you get and the more ideas you form,” Brackett said. “I really like my art right now, but I hope to someday get to a point where it makes me say, ‘Wow.’ I’m not quite there yet. I want to push into new areas in the near future and really expand my knowledge of the different art forms that I haven’t yet explored.”

Contact Tier Morrow with comments at tkmorrow@bsu.edu or on Twitter at @tiermorrow

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