This summer, the Creative Arts Center of Dallas (CAC) selected Brooke Chaney, aka MOM, as their summer resident artist. MOM is only the second resident artist in CAC’s newly established Equitable Artist Residency (EAR) Program. Her residency consisted of a solo exhibition titled Procession, located in CAC’s gallery, and a role as the lead instructor and educator for CAC’s outreach program, Run with the P.A.C.K (Public Art Camp for Kids), where she led a group of teens ages 12–16 through the process of creating a large-scale public art mural.
For MOM, Procession functions as a reflection, a micro-retrospective, of her artistic practice over the past few years. The majority of her pieces in the show are paintings characterized by solid, flat fields of color, creating shapes that are both geometric and organic. Although MOM utilizes a variety of principles and elements of design as driving forces within her compositions, such as balance, repetition, rhythm, and movement, it is her use of vibrant color, and the combinations and contrast between the colors within a work, that immediately catches the eye.
Natural landscapes and bits of infrastructure can be seen within many of her paintings, and some diverge into complete abstraction. Horizontal and vertical lines create a grid in which the landscapes are situated and experimented upon. “Thematically the work is an overall exploration of the outside, natural world from the perspective of being indoors,” MOM says of her exhibition. Altogether, her work is inquisitive in its formal explorations while remaining playful and vivacious.
For the latter half of her residency, MOM guided a group of young teens through the process of creating a public mural, not only physically, but also conceptually. MOM has ample experience in designing and installing murals — her latest one can be found at the recently opened immersive art experience Meow Wolf in Grapevine, Texas. However, the location of this mural is on the side of Owenwood Farm and Neighbor Space in East Dallas, a community hub for a plethora of local nonprofits. MOM first led the group, which she affectionately referred to as “scholars,” on a journey of exploring the grounds and learning about the overall mission of the organization. “Then, we spent the next couple of days brainstorming imagery that could not only represent the good Owenwood does, but the reality of the community surrounding it,” MOM explained to me. “Themes of equity, inclusion, and diversity were explored and expressed, as well as gentrification and disparity.”
Once the group collaboratively settled on a meaningful narrative and layout for the mural, the scholars set to work. For most of them this was an entirely new media on a much larger scale than anything they had ever done. In the end, the mural portrays an idyllic farmscape/naturescape inhabited by a community of bugs who work with and for their fellow bug community. Although the group tackled heavy themes of racial and wealth inequality when contemplating the history of East Dallas, the resulting mural can only be described as joyous and full of hope for a better tomorrow. “Being able to acknowledge and support the agency they discovered during this experience was my favorite part of the camp,” MOM told me, reflecting on the experience. “It’s amazing to see what young people can accomplish with just a bit of direction and trust. I’m extremely proud of the scholars and what they were able to give to the community through their artistic expression.”
Procession is on view at the Creative Arts Center of Dallas through Friday, August 11, 2023.
Applications and information for the next resident artist at CAC can be found here.