Q&A: Jonathan Brilliant, 

artist-in-residence at the U of M

click to enlarge ERICA WALTERS

Artist Jonathan Brilliant, 32, goes through at least 50,000 coffee stirrers a month. While he likes coffee, he's not stirring lattes; he uses the stirrers to weave landscapes.

Brilliant, an artist from South Carolina, has been inspired by both coffee shops and found objects. In his The Goldsworthy of Coffee Shop Project, an installation made of wooden coffee stirrers, he combines the two. The site-specific installation will be on display at U of M's Jones Hall Gallery until October 30th.

Flyer: When did you start building landscapes out of coffee stirrers?

Brilliant: I began working in this way four years ago. I gathered materials in my natural environment, which I saw as a coffee shop, and used them to create an installation.

Is the wood tough on your hands?

[The stirrers are] the kind you find at high-end coffee shops, not something in the office normally. Since I've started, I've only had one splinter and that was this week. The work I do gives me really strong hands.

How long does it take to complete an installation?

It has taken a week to complete this installation. I worked about 10 to 12 hours a day. The Memphis piece is the eighth installation I've done since I began. I will be doing eight more within the next 10 months.

How do you start a project like this?

I started weaving around the top first. Then I moved to the bottom. From there, it was easy to join the top and bottom and fill in the rest. I know beforehand what kind of volume and weaving is needed for a piece.

What should people see when they look at your artwork?

What I see is an experience. My artwork is an active experience [so that] you want to move around the space. None of my installations are the same. The Memphis piece was made specifically for Memphis.

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