To be gifted with the ability to convey the stories and experiences of others while expanding an individuals understanding of their own universe is a unique skill that Brennan Alexa has been blessed with. People come with the gems of their lives, entrusting her with their vulnerability, as she creates a sense of empathy within the thread of her works. Storytelling is her passion, purpose and inspiration.
"I resonate hard with the saying "good stories come to those who know how to tell them." My entire life I've been blessed with peoples trust in me.
How does your role as filmmaker feel? Is there an emotional connection that forms?
Of course! I fall in love with anything that I stare at long enough. It embarrasses me sometimes because I wonder if the subject I'm focusing on so intently is on to me! For me it's pretty selfish in my motivation for what I capture. I fall in love so easily with moments and people and I want them to belong to me in my memory bank. I am the kind of person that reviews old photos and childhood homemade videos monthly. I feel that if I speak to anyone long enough I can feel a connection--I may learn that our views or morals may differ but I always feel connected when filming a subject.
Do you find reflections of yourself in your work?
Always. Everything we do in our lives feed who we are and what we see. It creates our style, taste, and way of viewing the world. We all have these lenses that direct our views and masks we use to present ourselves. It's inevitable for anyone and this of course does not exclude those who choose to create. I try really hard to step outside my own ego in order to have a unbiased view, but I often find that my ego is so big and so present. It is my constant battle. So in short... yes, I do find reflections of my experiences in my work and visa versa!
How have your experiences inspired your path?
I am a curious, observant kitty that loves to try anything multiple times. I like to get myself into trouble or challenging situations and then untangle myself. I am obsessed with the puzzles I create and how to solve them. I think that's why I love editing so much, because its like working out a puzzle of all the hot mess that I shot. I think this question ties into the one previously where I create what I see and that is my direction. All I know is that I have an identity that fluctuates, a hometown, and a lust for learning about different cultures. That is the groundwork of what drives me.
I'm from Connecticut—I grew up in the suburbs playing lacrosse, wearing polo's and UGG boots, riding horses, and eating fancy cheeses, but I've always been attracted to hardships and grit, people who have challenging stories and less than seamless come-ups. As a black female American that had access to such a privileged up-bringing (also having been encouraged to travel from such a young age) I wanted to use my voice and newly discovered awareness to give voices to those who aren't sure they have one.
When working with new clients, how to you mold the story with the brand?
First we have to understand who their audience is, what is the goal with said audience - how do we want to make them feel and what is our message? It's then that I can dive into the culture of that brand and see what identity it is that I want to help them project. I try and feel out their vibe and see where I can insert my talent to help highlight theirs, it's collaborative work.
How long have you been a photographer and filmmaker?
Professionally since I graduated in 2014, but realistically since my first canon rebel 2000 and my first home-video camera when I was about 10 years old. Photography is something that I purely enjoy for myself and I don't like to make a business out of it. But film-making goes hand in hand with my love of storytelling and has made my professional life challenging yet enjoyable.
How do you release creative blocks?
I try to jump to another medium - writing drawing, painting. Sometimes those outlets aren't enough so then I focus on feeding my soul, body, and mind with good food, exercise, traveling, and lot's of socializing. Sometimes nothing works better than space and time. Jumping out of my brain for a bit.
What's was Mujer movement?
The #Mujer #Movement was something incredible. It created a space and a platform for amazing female artists - primarily ladies of color - to showcase their work for a night. I enjoyed seeing all the new faces (all ages and genders) come to pay tribute to the work and connect with like-minded folks. It was beautiful, Connecticut needed it and all I can hope is that it will inspire more for the community of artists who exist there.
What Connecticut needs more than anything are spaces for artists to gather regularly so that we can grow as a unit. Everything feels so individualistic out there for me that it feels like we aren't always supporting each other as much as we could. But in all fairness I haven't properly lived in CT for 8 years, I just see the incredible talent that exists out there and the same blockage that prevents the cultural growth.
Have you collaborated with other women of color?
Yes! Mostly in #Pittsburgh where I started of with a black #filmmakers fellowship called the #Game #Changers project. From there, I established a family and in particular with one artist-friend Njaimeh Njie who's out there making waves every year, so inspiring. I didn't even realize how important it was to me to make art with other woman of color. It felt so natural, so easy, so much love. Since then I feel that the majority of my work has involved black men and woman, without it being solely geared towards a black audience. In that, I mean I chose black subjects to star in my works and I try to expand the images and representations of what we see as black. Unconsciously, I am just trying to put us out there and show the normalcy of our existence.
Do you have any long-term goals with your career?
I have ideas, but I try not to think long term about anything. The universe has trained me to be an in-the-present type thinker and I get deeply overwhelmed by thinking too far ahead. For now I know that I am very attracted to functional art, or art that challenges and expands the typical confinements of a museum. I would prefer that my art be accessible to all, and I love to capture spontaneity and have a naturalistic element to all of my work. For business I'd love to create a brand that transcends a physical space, because feeling weighted down makes me feel claustrophobic .
How do you want your work to be remembered? What's your life's message?
I just want to heal people by creating more understanding across thought-boarders. It's all I've ever wanted. For people to consider the other side of the story. I would love for my work to change people by expanding their thoughts on any subject, but I don't need my name to be attached to any such project. i would be so satisfied if they just walked away thinking, "hmm.."
You can follow Brennan on IG: @_brennanarts_ #BrennanAlexa and visit her website: www.brennanalexa.com