If there was a mass shooting happening near you, would you 1-run, 2-hide, or 3- fight?
Featured image: Angela Ea
By Angela Ea
A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to hear Bren Ahearn’s artist talk at BAM on an exhibition called “Strategies for Survival.” The exhibition is on view at BAM until January 15, and includes works that range from instructions on how to react in mass shootings, HIV scares, near-death experiences, questionable career choices, and unlucky circumstances that may be experienced by unorthodoxically feminine men.
Photo: Miles Mattison
You can follow Bren on Instagram at @brenahearn!
San Francisco-based needlework artist, Bren Ahearn, comes from a family of makers. His grandmother crocheted Afghans; his mother made quilts, and his siblings work in puppeteering, graphic design, and fashion. From his youth, Bren was a creative kid who was fond of things “atypical” to society’s preconceptions about masculinity. As he grew older, he gradually stopped being creative in order to fit in his peers. Now as an adult, Bren uses his free time to work with embroidery, challenging society’s preconceptions on masculinity.
Bren Ahearn’s artist statement: “I use textile crafts to explore masculinity’s conflicting messages, and I typically use the cross stitch ABC sampler form to document how I’ve been educated to be a man in US society.”
Historically, ABC samplers, like the one shown below were created as demonstrations of needlework that portrayed the alphabet, motifs, border patterns, and other imagery. They were used to prepare girls for basic needlework skills in the household. All along, embroidery has been accounted as a feminine pastime.
Bren Ahearn takes these associations head-on and humorously appropriates them into his works by following the similar pattern of ABC samplers, but he blows them up in size and inserts provoking remarks, alluding to current events and his own personal experiences.
Four of Bren Ahearn’s Amazing Works
Here is a picture of the lovely faces of other teens who had the opportunity to hear from Bren.