By Kelly Rae Mathews
Sophia Nali Allison wrote in the New Yorker, that people of African descent, even through slavery in America, believed they could fly, as a spiritual freedom. Creating this spiritual space of joy helped keep her people moving forward. Artist Brittany Trambitas brings themes of the soul’s flight to freedom through joy to Spokane in her fantastical and exuberant art.
An example of this is the portrait of a beautiful woman that looks like the cover of a science fiction magazine, or a metaphysical place. The woman looks of divine, cosmic origins. One half of her looks warmer, imbued with the light of a single sun, the other side of her is full of an entire universe of stars.
I sat down with Brittany to ask her questions about spirituality and her art.
Kelly: When I first saw your paintings, I felt such joy clearly emanating through them. I felt they were very spiritual. But do you, the artist feel there is a spiritual component in your work?
Brittany: I want to create joy and space for brown women. We need a space to just be joyful. My mom is Catholic. Dad not really. Mom didn’t want to force it or for my belief to be fear-based. I had thought maybe I was an atheist. As I got older, I did more research. I felt connected to something greater than myself. I’m spiritual, but not religious. I’m not an atheist, but I’m hesitant to refer to God. What society has done with it, is made God Singular. I feel God is more of a vast expanse than that. I connect on a universal plane.
Kelly: When I look at your art there is to me a theme with women connected to the divine feminine of the universe.
Brittney: My work is very connected to female presence. Women and the feminine are not getting recognized for the power they have. My art is an ode to female presence. There’s an aura, that is otherworldly. I like to dig deeper to express my spirituality. Perhaps I’m bordering somewhere on Pagan. I like to pick and choose. I connect on a certain level to Wicca. I don’t follow all of that. Some people just want you so badly to say, “I am this.” I think people are more complicated than that. It all comes together in this weird ball of Brittany. I feel there is a strong female connection to nature. Representation of personhood connects to more than one spirituality.
Kelly: I noticed at FemFest 2019 there were a few artists who seemed Wiccan. Some of these were part of the Shades of Me Art Collective of which you are a member.
Brittany: There was a nice mix. There were artists with heavy Baptist background open to discussing crystal work and Tarot cards. There was also a little clashing of beliefs. Shades of Me is about art work no matter your background.
Kelly: Tell me about your first art Show with Shades of Me.
Brittany: I really loved it. I had so many women come into my booth. There was, however, one woman who asked me why there weren’t any paintings of white women. I grew up in Spokane. I’ve heard all the things, been called all the names. I was still surprised. Shades is an event explicitly put on by and for women of color. A painting of a white woman at that event would be me apologizing for taking up space as a brown woman at an event that was explicitly for us. People will enjoy your culture’s food, fashion, and music, but deep down, they are not interested in the core of your culture.
Kelly: It’s the mindset of the colonizer. I’m sorry for that. I see there is some ambiguity in your painting. Women have green and blue skin as well as brown.
Brittney: Painting the women green and blue with the features of brown women was a way of me removing “color” to see how people perceive the paintings and women in them. Representation is less of a theme, and more of a foundation in my work.
BriOn Nov. 10 Brittany Trambitas will be featured at Dinner with Shades: A Bridge to Intimacy.
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Kelly Rae Mathews grew up in culturally and faith diverse San Diego, Calif. during the 70s and 80s before moving to Spokane in 2004. Growing up in a such a diverse environment with amazing people, led Mathews to be very empathetic and open to the insights of many different faiths, she said. She loves science fiction and this also significantly contributed to and influenced her own journey and understanding of faith and values. She agrees with and takes seriously the Vulcan motto, when it comes to faith and life, “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.” Therefore, it is no surprise she has a degree in anthropology as well as English. She has studied the anthropology of religion and is knowledgeable about many faiths.
She completed an anthropological research project on poets of the Inland Northwest, interviewing over two dozen poets, their audiences, friends, family members, and local business community who supported the poetry performances. Mathews gave a presentation on How Poets Build Community: Reclaiming Intimacy from the Modern World at the Northwest Anthropological Conference, at the Eastern Washington University Creative Symposium, the Eastern Washington University Women’s Center and the Literary Lunch Symposium put on by Reference Librarian and Poet Jonathan Potter at the Riverfront Campus.
She was a volunteer minister in San Diego for about 10 years while attending college and working in various editorial positions.
Her articles, poems and short stories have appeared in Fickle Muse, The Kolob Canyon Review, Falling Star Magazine, Acorn, The Coyote Express, The Outpost and Southern Utah University News.