Local Artist Brandi Kole Featured at 2024 Lucca Biennale Cartasia in Italy

Bloomington- and Tucson-based multimedia artist showcases three artworks—including one highlighted in Midwest Home—at international paper art and architecture event


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From June 29 to Sept. 29, the historic Palazzo Guinigi in Lucca, Italy, will be transformed into a spectacular showcase of paper-based art at The Lucca Biennale Cartasia (LUBICA), the world’s largest event dedicated to contemporary art and architecture in paper through exhibitions, workshops, meetings, tastings, team-building sessions, book clubs, board games, and, well, endless art. Bloomington- and Tucson-based creator Brandi Kole, who was photographed and interviewed for last year’s September/October issue as our featured artisan, is among the highlighted artists, and stands out with her innovative and captivating mixed media portraits.

At LUBICA 2024, Kole will display three of her remarkable pieces, including “Precarious,” “Don’t Hold Your Breath,” and the much-acclaimed “On the Sly,” as seen in Midwest Home. Each of her works reflects this year’s theme, “Here and Now: Tomorrow,” and a deep commitment to exploring the potential of paper and transforming materials into intricate and thought-provoking art.

Her creative process is nothing short of inspiring. “I sketch out the portrait or design first, then move the image underneath the needle,” she explained to Midwest Home last summer. “I do all of my work on a sewing machine—no hand embroidery. I go through so many sewing needles as they have to punch through paper, vinyl, even cardboard. Sometimes the piece is large and working it through the machine can be challenging. I’ve sewn through my fingers many times! While creating the loose and knotted threads, I don’t use the pressure foot, which can help protect your fingers. It’s a risk I take to achieve the results I want,” she continues. “Another part of the process is tearing away parts of the image, unpeeling layers, to reveal unseen backgrounds. I like the tattered, incomplete images created. I finish with watercolor. The process is very organic and might also include weaving or the addition of elements from nature—like flowers or butterflies.”

In the event you’re in Europe this summer, tickets are available at luccabiennale.com. Or, peruse Kole’s work at brandikole.com or on Instagram at @brandikoleart.

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