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Brett Gustafson

born 1986, Fargo, North Dakota, USA, currently based in Chicago, USA 


​Brett Gustafson is an architect and painter living and working in Chicago. He holds a BFA in Studio Arts from the University of Minnesota, where he received Honors in Painting, and a fellowship to the Free Universitat Berlin. He has a Masters of Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His work is a balance pragmatism and playfullness, deploying the histories of both architecture and painting as a method for design. The overlap in disciplines occur in a special attention to composition, color, and a tactile experience of materials.

​Letter Home:

An Open Letter to a Space Previously Occupied by an Object

The objects we speak of are never completed, never ‘finished’. They are completely occupied with a state of becoming. A  constant state of re-contextualizing and assimilating. They are objects that wear suits of cultural Camouflage. They are Cultural Cameleons with zig-zaging migration patterns. Patterns which produce the objects we desire. Out of intersections, overlapping, and layering of our movements, new techniques and forms are born, new figures are shaped, new molds are uncovered.  

We often define these objects in relation to the previously occupied spaces.

But what this object desires is only achievable through movement. So the object must be temporarily displaced, dislocated, disembodied for certain effects and procedures to be realized. Movement also implies change. It implies destinations, departures, and arrivals. There points A and B, but it is also A to B to Z, and back again. What is vital for this object is the accumulation of material: textures, theories, sounds, and smells. All absorbed into the skin, imprinted and stamped into a material memory, later to be uncovered as fossils of lived experiences.. This is the residual matter of which we create meaning and history. 

To be an object in motion, traveling through space, colliding with other objects and events is a production for the ambiguously awkward and unexpected. This object has no predetermined trajectories, because this would interrupt the unforeseen products of movements through space. However this object does have gravitational pulls. These forces come from the previously occupied spaces, and the histories associated with them. These gravitational pulls are also an accumulation. It can be possible for objects to have multiple and conflicting gravitational forces. But this is the destiny of an object in orbit.  

The objects speak differing languages. Sometimes several simultaneously. The way the object communicates and uses it’s language also mutates with changing contexts.  They carry different symbols and gestures, different methods of communicating, different methods of movement, different methods of occupying spaces. Lang

The object never sits still. Even when it is stationary, it shifts and moves in memory and meaning. 

Objects fall into the hands of viewers, audiences, spectators etc. They bear the fingerprints of correlations, alliances, dialogues, etc. They bear the analysis of a critical eye. The patina starts to show.