Artist Profile: Andrew Brott
THOM BENNETT PHOTOGRAPH
There’s a lot of change these days along Freret Street, an Uptown commercial stretch with a bumper crop of new restaurants and other businesses. In the midst
of them also has risen the strikingly contemporary three-story home, studio and all-around headquarters of glass artist Andrew Brott.
Inside, Brott channels his fervent energies into the hands-on work of creating mixed-media art glass installations, sculptures and chandeliers and also into his deep passion for research, studying the ideas of those who inspire him. That proves to be a highly varied roster, from 19th-century industrial pioneers and inventors to contemporary artists, authors and activists.
“You’re only as good as your research; you have to start there,” Brott says. “My goal is to use a traditional, craft-based medium to make fine art glass and sculpture.”
Brott grew up in the Midwest and had an early introduction to glass-making thanks to a high school apprenticeship. He was hooked from the start.
“I ended up at the age of 16 knowing exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Brott says. “I’ve had many mentors – the elders, the craftspeople and artists who make a living with glass.”
He studied art glass at University of Wisconsin – River Falls, and he and his wife, Kellie Grengs, moved to New Orleans in 1993 to join the city’s then-burgeoning art glass community.
Today, Brott’s work covers a broad range of project types as he toggles between and among mediums, often blending them as he goes. For instance, in a new endeavor he calls “hand-carved photography,” he combines glass art, satellite imagery and traditional printmaking to create three-dimensional works based on the besieged Louisiana coast. For another project, he’s rendering Gulf Coast sea grass in 7-foot blades of sculpted glass. A dream, he says, is to create a gallery show centered on the region’s coastal issues.
Although these recent projects reflect local concerns, Brott’s work is better known farther from home. He has no local gallery representation, and nearly all of his sales come from outside the region. Still, he says the New Orleans experience has inspired and shaped his work.
“The reason I love New Orleans is that I can’t explain New Orleans,” he says. “If I could explain it 100 percent, I probably wouldn’t like it.”