“The works I have chosen to exhibit are a selection of pastels from various series I have created over the years. Beyond the formal affinities between the works (biomorphic shapes on a square format), a common conceptual thread is each drawing’s rootedness in what had been a years-long exploration of identity for me: the point of departure for each work is – literally – self-portraiture. (One can see traces of pencil marks in many of the drawings – marks made from literally looking in the mirror, sketching what I see; my process in making these drawings is then connecting these “dots” in such a way that defining characteristics – eyes, nose, mouth, ears – are omitted, leaving only a minimal form conveying its own sense of object- hood, or being-hood.) While the drawings are conceptually and philosophically grounded (and grounding) for me, I recognize and embrace that at the end of the day what resolves are works with their own merit or resonance, open to viewers’ enjoyment or consideration.”
Peter Bruun is an artist, educator, curator, and community activist in the arts. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1963 and raised in New York City, he moved to the Baltimore area in 1987 to attend graduate school. He has remained in the region ever since, currently dividing his time between Maine, and Maryland. Bruun received a BA in Art History from Williams College in 1985 and went on to receive an MFA in 1989 from the Maryland Institute College of Art’s (MICA) Mount Royal School of Art.
In 1999, Bruun became founding Exhibitions Educator for The Park School of Baltimore, a position he held 2000-2005. As Exhibitions Educator, he pioneered a gallery program that put side-by-side works by local and national artists with art and objects from and by Park student and faculty.
In 2005, seeking to bridge the divide between his work at Park School and his studio practice, Bruun founded Art on Purpose, dedicated to using art to bring people together around issues and ideas. At the outset, projects were intended to at times center on his studio practice (Second Chances is an example from Art on Purpose’s first year). Within a year, however, art making was displaced by demands of administrative duties and projects such as Real City Dream City, Maps on Purpose, Everyone an Artist, and Heroes in Our Midst—projects involving multiple artists, communities, and major cultural institutions (Bruun’s paintings had a small presence in Maps on Purpose).
In June 2010, Bruun stepped down as founding director, following a five-year run of having significant impact on Baltimore and its community arts scene, and an equally long dry period for his own studio practice. Bruun remained involved in Art on Purpose through 2011 and its final project (the organization folded in 2012), serving as Coordinator for Black Male Identity(BMI). In addition to his work with BMI in 2011, Bruun was contracted by Marian House to create 30 Women, 30 Stories, an Art on Purpose-like project centered around a book, audio stories, DVD, and traveling exhibition highlighting the success stories of 30 women whose lives had been transformed by Marian House.
Other art-related activities in which Bruun has been involved include: traveling to Amman, Jordan in 2007 (paintings of his were on loan to the State Department and displayed at the home of the United States’ Ambassador to Jordan) and in 2009 to Ramallah in the West Bank as a cultural envoy; serving as a consultant and advisor for Innovators Combatting Substance Abuse’s annual Art & Addiction exhibition (2006-2009) and Open Society Institute-Baltimore’s Moving Walls exhibitions in Baltimore (2005-2008). Bruun founded the New Day Campaign in early 2014, following the death of his daughter Elisif from heroin addiction. For more information on the New Day Campaign, visit www.newdaycampaign.org. In 2019, Bruun presented his most recent undertaking, Beyond Beautiful: One Thousand Love Letters, a two-space project with exhibitions and events at both Maryland Art Place and Area 405 in Baltimore.