Brittany Gould talks about her piece for Design After Dark, "Dreaming in Another Language"

Brittany Gould has been making art in various mediums for a decade in Colorado. From tangible paper-made objects to beautiful vocal loops created live as her audience watches, the Washington, D.C., native's temperate approach to art comes through with a fierce individuality.

One of a handful of artists, architects and designers chosen to participate in this year's Design After Dark fundraiser put on by the Denver Art Museum, Gould will be presenting a piece that fits within the event's "Cirque" theme. In advance of the show this Friday, February 8, at the McNichols Building, the artist spoke to Westword about creating art under a preset idea, and what her musical life looks like lately.

See also: - At the Denver Art Museum, change is good - Design After Dark 2012: A photo preview - The unpretentious, gentle manner of Married in Berdichev's Brittany Gould gives little indication as to the intensity of her art

Westword: The theme for this year's Design After Dark is "Cirque." How did you work that into the piece you created?

Brittany Gould: When you first get invited (to participate in Design After Dark) you get the theme, but there are three sub-themes: tension, illusion and contortion. I got tension. I had a bunch of ideas about what I wanted to do, but they kind of didn't make sense -- considering I wanted to have something that had power. You can't have (electricity) at your station.

My piece is called "Dreaming in Another Language." With the idea of tension, I sort of have it as the background of the piece -- more than what it's giving off physically, or by way of form.

I was reading this article about a French actress, Marion Cotillard; she was talking about how she didn't speak English five years ago. One of the questions she was asked (in the story) was, "Have you ever dreamt in English? Do you ever think in English?"

I loved that idea -- just thinking about learning something new and how it's so difficult and tense, if you will. Then, kind of bringing that language on as your regular speech and regular thought.

I like to think about that with relationships -- learning intimacy. It's like meeting a new friend and thinking, okay, I'm going to go get lunch with this person I've never hung out with and it's going to be really awkward. (Laughs.)

Sometimes it works and there's a breaking point where you're like, we're going to be great friends! Or it's just awkward the whole time. (Laughs.) It's like a comfort -- I feel like I struggle with that a lot. Not necessarily making friends, but feeling comfortable with other people.

So I have these two pieces of walnut that are kind of close to each other -- I don't want to say that they are representing people. Because it's more like the feeling of that representation, I guess? Then there's a paper structure that's enveloping it and surrounding it. I'm guess I'm trying to give off the feeling of learning intimacy with someone else. Do you feel like your process is similar when creating something under a given idea?

Well, it's not totally similar; I don't think it could be. But I feel like I think a lot more about what I want to do, or I think a lot more beforehand about what it means. Normally, I'll just make something and then figure it out. Or I'll reinvent the project many times.

I had so many different ideas for this; when I'm making things for myself, I just go for it. I'm not on a deadline or trying to do anything other than make myself happy, I guess? (Laughs.) The deadline of this had to be about something specific, but I had been thinking about something already and applied it. It feels more comfortable that way.

I had some other ideas, but they didn't really feel like me. Originally I wanted magnets and to have a piece that was floating, but it wasn't going to work out. It would have been fun, but it wouldn't have been the same. I'm happy with what I did.

This is your second year participating in Design After Dark. How did you get involved?

Last year Darrin Alfred (curator of Design After Dark) saw a piece of mine in Ironwood. He saw my installation there and liked it, and contacted me through that. Then I guess he liked me enough to ask me back. It feels cool. It is an honor to feel like people who I think are important think that I'm worth it.

Where else can people see your work at the moment?

I have some sculptures at Ironwood and I'll be doing Artopia this year, too.

You also make music as Married In Berdichev, and Caldera Lakes with fellow musician Ava Aguila. Are you working on anything music-related lately?

I'm trying to record. I was hoping it was something that would be ready for summer, but we'll see. I'm booking a European tour (for Married In Berdichev) in the summer, I'm so excited. It's going to be with Nick Houde, who's now living in Berlin.

I think Ava and I will try to do something before then -- I mean, we're just talking about it now. Which is nice that we're even talking about it, because we haven't played together in two years. It felt like magic. We've just lost track of each other, nothing weird. Just busy.

Oh, and I did start a new band! Well, we've only had six practices and we have three songs. It's me, Tyler Snow and James Yardley. We're just hanging out and making songs -- it's kind of gothy electronic stuff. It's pretty fun.

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