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Artists Pip and Duane Brant Subvert Household Objects into Whimsical Playthings
Pip Brant, "The Flying Carpet", 2009. Found oriental rug, embroidery, silkscreen, brass ornaments, wood, car parts, electric motor, laser light, rheostate controllers.
MIAMI BEACH, FL..- ArtCenter/South Florida presents The Flying Carpet, an exhibition born of the playthings that fuel the arguments of married artists Pip and Duane Brant. From September 4 to October 11, 2009, viewers will be invited into their whimsical world of sewing-sound-machines, flying carpets and more at ArtCenter/South Florida (800 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach).

Opening night on Saturday, September 5 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. coincides with the Lincoln Road art walk, which debuted August 1 and takes place the first Saturday of every month. In addition to The Flying Carpet showcased in the main gallery, more than 40 local artists, ACSF’s #810 and #924 Lincoln Road studios, art spaces and Maya Tapas & Grill in South Beach will open their doors to share photography, painting, installation, video, mixed media, glass works and culinary delights. For more information, please call 305.674. 8278 or visit

“The Flying Carpet is a great opportunity to celebrate the work of two of South Florida’s most innovative and engaging artists," said Jeremy Chestler, ArtCenter/South Florida's Executive Director. "This is a very sophisticated show and is also one that should be accessible to the public at large, and serve as an introduction for many viewers to installation and sound art.”

Pip Brant’s carpet is comprised of a found oriental rug, embroidery, silkscreen, brass ornaments, wood, car parts, electric motor, laser light and rheostat controllers. The original floor covering first entered Pip’s life in the early 1980s in Wyoming, and served as both a warming barrier for household treading and a place for newborn goats to gain their footing. When moving to Miami, she wrapped the rug around her piano, and it was even once tossed in an alley, falling prey to neighbors’ trucks. The many adventures of Pip’s carpet were just taking shape when she had an epiphany: she would create an impotent “flying carpet” that only shakes and lights-up when foot pedals are engaged. Its temporary home for the month of September will be at ArtCenter/South Florida.

“Hanging on to objects is a stupid fault,” states Duane Brant. “Then, motorizing, embroidering and electrifying can bring this malady to a new level. The end result is an altitude of transformation that can no longer function as a useful item, and a ridiculous contraption that can evolve into ‘art.’”

Duane’s installation pieces are dubbed “sew organs” or interactive acoustical sound machines. In addition to the flying carpet, ArtCenter’s audience will be invited to play with these instruments that combine vintage sewing machines with shellacked, wooden acoustic forms that are electronically connected to organs, cellos or old radios. Each sewing machine has its own exclusive tone that is distorted by the volume and shape of the wooden forms, with foot pedals that can manipulate the variable tempos, fortes and pianos.

The sewing machine comes from a historically-significant lineage of machinery, rooted in sound production and as an icon depicting social status. Some sewed with their mothers; others made low wages; moreover, some people used sewing to avoid other kinds of servitude. Duane’s sew organs have adopted roles of their own, at once creating clutter in the home and provoking arguments with Pip, as well as inspiring creation and musical experiments.

Duane and Pip Brant met in 1972 at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT, where they earned their art and teaching degrees. They taught art on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeastern Montana and later moved to Wyoming, where they built goat barns, a house and a studio. During and after graduate school, the Brants were members of a collaborative art group named “Kunstwaffen.” This group was active for 10 years, producing interactive projects like Cattle/Text Interaction and Screwed Earth. The environmental and gender issued aims of this collective still inform the sensibility of this pair of artists.

The couple now focuses on individual works but collaborate when each other’s skills are needed. They have exhibited internationally in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Hungary, Great Britain and Santa Domingo as well in the United States.

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