The exhibition The North Star Changes: Works by Brenda Mallory features sculptures that the artist has made using reclaimed and found objects, some taking the form of large-scale installations. Mallory describes her process as bricolage—something constructed or created from a diverse range of available things. Mallory notes, “The idea that an object has more than one use, more than one life in it, is what appeals to me.”
One of Mallory’s processes is to dip flannel cloth in beeswax and shape the cloth into undulating forms, many of which are biomorphic, suggesting the forms of living organisms. Once she has completed the individual parts, she pieces them together with nuts and bolts or other crude hardware to create the finished form. In other mixed-media works, Mallory has cut apart and reformed linen fire hoses into composed wall hangings, has sliced open spools of industrial thread to form fields of color, and has worked with reclaimed drive belts of various types to create linear “drawings” that are rich in texture and pattern.
Mallory’s Heard Museum exhibition, The North Star Changes, is based on the idea that humans perceive the North Star as permanent. Currently, Polaris is the North Star, but over the course of thousands of years, different stars assume the position and the name. Permanence becomes impermanence, and Mallory notes, “The idea of things changing has always been in my work.”
Mallory has received much recognition for her work as an artist. In 2015 she was awarded an Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, in 2016 she received a National Artist Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and in 2022 she was awarded a Hallie Ford Fellowship in the Visual Arts from The Ford Family Foundation.