PEMBROKE — For 36-year-old sculptor and multimedia artist Brandon Tart, art should highlight issues, whether political, spiritual or social, without banging anyone over the head.
Tart hopes that will be the subtle effect of a secret art installation he has been working on for the past year. The work is planned for outside the Pembroke True Value and Home Center on N.C. 711. It is set to be unveiled sometime in late February.
While True Value owner Lindsey Locklear would not go into specific details as to what the piece is, or what it represents, he said that it is a 12-foot abstract structure, painted with Lumbee tribal colors, that captures the “essence of the community.”
To truly appreciate the piece and its meaning, Locklear believes that people will have to see the work for themselves.
Tart, who is currently a student at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, said he does not prefer any one medium for his artwork. The Lillington native added that depending on the material used, a viewer with a keen eye can likely deduce the meaning and intention behind any given piece.
“I try to avoid creating a niche for myself, but it’s an unconscious effort,” Tart said. “For instance, my works dealing with psychological or spiritual subjects are usually carved from wood, but not always. I think wood gives the work an emotive quality necessary to pair well with the work’s literary and scientific origins. When I work in steel and stone, though, I tend to develop architectonic sculptures. Combinations of wood, steel and stone reflect the narratives of the works.”
Tart’s childhood may have played a role in his future career. He said he learned early on how the sting of sweat in one’s eyes felt after a long hard day of work, and he learned to like it.
“I began working at 8 years old,” Tart said. “My dad insisted on it.”
While he worked to help install aquatic gardens and mow lawns as child and teenager, Tart said that he would often find himself daydreaming, his mind going to more creative places.
Though he doesn’t draw a direct line between his work designing stone and brick patios as a child and the art he creates now, it did prepare him in many ways for the physical nature of working with large sculptures, many of which require using raw materials, such as wood and steel.
“My childhood was organic, spent in either the dirt, or the surrounding forests, hiking and camping,” Tart said. “On occasion there were temporary visitations to the drawing board to divest the contents of my head on paper. I’m not sure what part of my childhood could be considered the marks of the making of an artist, but I can say a great deal of my childhood was marked with vivid imagery, whether real or imagined. I’ve made few conclusions.”
The artist, who in his lengthy career has created art appraised at anywhere between $100 and $12,000, has a laundry list of academic credits. They include two years at the Southeastern Theological Seminary School, earning a bachelor of Fine Arts from East Carolina University of Art and Design, and enrolling in the Estonian Academy of Fine Art, which required him to work in a sculpture symposium on the Estonian island of Saaremaa in 2007.
After returning from Estonia and working temporarily as an art teacher for Western Harnett High School, Tart said that it was his father, Rodney Tart, who again insisted that he continue to push himself.
“[He said] ‘Brandon, you should get your advanced degrees,’” said Tart. “I took his advice that very spring.”
Tart enrolled in the art education program at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where he began working with teacher and fellow sculptor Adam Walls.
Walls said that Tart appears to have an endless supply of energy and an innate sense of competitiveness, which may explain his Renaissance-man approach to the various mediums of art.
“[There is a] meticulous detail and a strong physicality about his work,” said Walls, who counts himself as having been fortunate to have worked with Tart for two semesters. “There is deep meaning to the subject matter.”