Brigitte Pirlot spent 33 years in Africa, often far from sources of more traditional art supplies. So she learned to use what was on hand to feed her creative instinct.
“We used to spare an old screw, a piece of fabric, a second-hand cloth to build myself things if I wanted something, because there was barely anything around, no shops,” explained Pirlot.
But even now with anything and everything close at hand, Pirlot still keeps an eye out for unique, otherwise overlooked pieces to incorporate into her work.
“I still have this habit, to keep everything in case I needed it,” she said. So now, when I can use or recycle that screw or scrap of any kind, I’m happy.”
Her works, which incorporate mixed media, have that scrappy sensibility. They are deeply personal but also fully open to interpretation. After all, seemingly random odds and ends can carry tremendous emotion and bring back powerful memories.
“I’ve had a lot of people cry at some of my pieces, reminding them of some memories. I’ve had wonderful stories from wonderful customers,” she said. “Each interpretation is a good one.”
Of course Pirlot’s art is also simply beautiful to look at, full of textures and colors.
“I think the tactile sense is not used enough,” she said. “I love to touch everything. Before buying, I have to touch, so it’s hard for me to buy online. I love nature and there are so many things to touch.”
Pirlot focuses on earth tones and turquoise because those are her favorite colors, and because they carry a “vintage” look. They also tend to connect her work back to nature, which is one of her biggest inspirations.
“I don’t call myself an artist,” she points out. “Just some lady who loves to play. We can’t imitate nature – it’s too beautiful. But we can incorporate the idea of it or use a piece of it, which I try to do.”
But if Pirlot doesn’t consider herself an artist, she clearly has a powerful eye for the beautiful and fascinating things around her, particularly the things that others might not consider special. She hopes that people notice the littler things too.
“I would like to inspire people to look around themselves, to experience their senses more, to look at the beauty of nature, of the earth, of other people, of art,” she said. “Everybody has talent, and I would like them to have fun.”
See more of Brigitte Pirlot’s work at Art Mecca of Charleston.