Flagler artist blends love of literature with painting

By Kristyn Pankiw | gargoyle@flagler.edu

In less than a year, Brianna Angelakis has gone from amateur art student to a rising name in the art world. A senior English and fine arts double major with a minor in illustration at Flagler College, Angelakis has recently landed exhibits nationwide.

That’s pretty impressive for someone who only began experimenting with oil painting in September 2011 — a medium she had never tried before and knew nothing about.

“I didn’t decide to become a fine arts major until last spring,” she said. “I just started fulfilling the major in April.”

But already she has landed exhibits in multiple north and central Florida galleries, including the Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens in Jacksonville. Angelakis has been featured in various magazines such as Folio Weekly, in which she was the cover story, and MISC Magazine, a publication that is released in 26 countries. She will begin showing her artwork nationally with features in both the Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco and Light Grey Art Lab in Minneapolis.

Brianna_Angelakis_headshotLeeds College of Art & Design in London has also contacted Angelakis to discuss developing a solo or partnered exhibition show for her artwork.

“It’s unreal to me,” she said. “I’ve learned so much this year from such amazing professors like Patrick Moser, Sara Pedigo and Leslie Robison. They are wonderful to learn from and are so supportive, which is really important.”

Her experimentation in oil grew into a series titled, “We Are Seven,” and the ever-popular series, “Brönte.” “We Are Seven” is in reference in William Wordsworth’s famous poem, and the series “Brönte” examines the various women characters in the Brönte sisters’ writings.

By that point Angelakis was hooked. She declared her second major and began to delve into a new artistic realm, focusing on connecting her favorite literature and her art in a style some have declared, “feminist surrealism.”

“I’m really inspired by the literature I read,” Angelakis explains. “Most of my subjects are women. The series I’m working on right now, ‘The Wonders of the Invisible World,’ draws from Chopin’s ‘The Awakening,’ and the concept of the fallen woman.”

Using a cool color palette, Angelakis sets her female subjects in the midst of nature, creating a mood that evokes emotion and gives a sense of eeriness to her works. Since beginning a year ago, Angelakis hasproduced four extensive series and at least 14 individual pieces, one of which was used for the Spring 2012 cover of the Flagler Review.

BriannaAngelakis_thehumofbees_small_cwJust how does one accomplish so many paintings in only a year? Angelakis spends nearly 140 hours on each painting, averaging 40 hours a week in the studio — and still manages to maintain a 4.0 GPA.

“I have no social life,” she claims while laughing, “But that’s OK with me.”

Patrick Moser, chair of the Art and Design Department, called Angelakis’ work ethic legendary. “I’m quite certain Brianna would live in the Molly Wiley Art Building if she could,” he said.

“(She) is an immensely skilled painter, but more than that her work has a complexity and emotional depth that reflects her connection to literature,” he said. “She truly is the personification of our Bachelor of Fine Arts program, an ambitious, interdisciplinary young artist dedicated to the creative act.”

From a young age, Angelakis was drawn to art. In first grade, she recalls, “I drew a self-portrait with Goofy. My mom always says she knew from that moment I was going to be an artist.”

Angelakis quickly turned her fascination with Disney movies and Sailor Moon into an artistic hobby, creating unique sketches and drawings on her own. It wasn’t until high school that she began to see her art in a new way.

“Nina Masters, one of my high school art teachers [at Seabreeze High School], was phenomenal,” Angelakis says. “Most of what I learned I credit to her. She taught me all the elements and principles of design, and she really saw the potential in me.”

Upon reaching college, Angelakis began to truly hone in on her passion. A lover of all things literature, she originally came to Flagler with the plan to major in English. Art, although something she loved, remained a hobby.

After graduation this spring, Angelakis will return for the fall semester to complete her masters in fine arts.

What else does Angelakis have up her sleeve for this year?

“I actually just started creating these neat paper sculptures,” she says. “They’re like a study in shadows, where I make a scene out of layers and layers of paper inside a frame.”

See more of Angelakis’ art at: www.briannaangelakis.com

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