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Meet the artist: 5 questions for local jeweler and dancer McKay Bram

Meet the artist: 5 questions for local jeweler and dancer McKay Bram

McKay Bram received her bachelor of arts in dance from Beloit College in 2014, and a diploma in jewelry manufacturing and repair from Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical in 2012. She is working towards her certification in movement fundamentals from Jane Hawley at Luther College.  

Related: Meet the artist: 5 questions for local sculptor Isaac Kidder

Bram is a co-founder and co-director, with Danny Solis, of the Rochester Art Ensemble, which seeks to create interdisciplinary performance work, and host intercultural events such as "Day of the Dead Poets Slam." She currently works as a bench jeweler and silversmith apprentice at Crown Trout Jewelers in Lanesboro.

1. How long have you been creating art?

I have been making art since I was very young. My parents were very encouraging and creative, and often did crafts or art projects with my siblings and I when we were little.

I guess the question for me may be: when did I start considering what I did art? I've been drawing and sketching throughout my life, but it was usually something private. It took me a while to reconsider and think that other people may find it valuable, that I could take my sketches and rework them into a piece, that is, a piece of art.

I still think about this, and I expect many artists do. It's only been the past few years that I've entered my work into art shows and started to sell pieces.

2. What inspires you?

I'm always inspired by the body, anatomy, and especially the body in motion. I'm continually amazed at how complex our working bodies are, how we all share a similar skeleton, but none exactly the same.

I also realize how out-of-touch many of us are with our own bodies, and I think that causes a wide range of problems. I always hope that some of my work can remind the viewer that they are an amazing living human with bones and muscles and tendons, that they're not just a brain being carried around by a body. I hope they can feel some of my inspiration and wonder at the body through the image I create.

I'm also inspired by watching animals move. This is inspiring both for visual art-making, and my dance-making. Animals never think about what they're doing, or seem self-conscious. When I watch a cat jump from the floor to a high shelf, it doesn't consider with what quality it might do it, or what it might look like, it just jumps. That lack of self-consciousness is captivating, and it's something I aim to recreate in my own movement, and something I try to capture in a drawing.


3. What medium/media do you work in primarily?

For visual art, I primarily work in ink and watercolor, or charcoal. I've also done a few sculptures and masks in paper mache, recently.

4. How does your artwork relate to your work in dance?

They are inseparable, really. I use the same process in my dancing as I do in my drawing. I prepare, follow an impulse, make choices, and review. The motion it takes to create a drawing could be its own dance, or a drawing could become the motivation for a new dance.

I have used movement as a way to inspire drawings, drawing what I felt in the dance after the dance is over, or I've also recorded myself dancing for a direct reference photo for visual art.

There are many ways to play with the relationship between visual art and movement/dance. For both, I am often more interested in the process than the product, and I think that focus can be seen in the product, as well, making it more interesting or layered than it would be otherwise.

5. Why do you think it is important to share your work with others?

I think it’s important because my work is really only half without a viewer, or an audience. The viewer/audience brings their own interpretation, ideas, and world to my work, and my work with their response is what makes it complete. I hope my art brings up new questions, ideas, and feelings for the viewer, and that it reminds them a little of their own self, as well.

C4 is seeking subscribers to launch its second season of Community Supported ART (CSA) program. A one-year subscription or "share" for $325 will include 4 crates.  The crates, which will be distributed at quarterly events, are centered around local artists' work, with additional creative/local items to enhance the experience. Interested subscribers should contact

About Cassandra Buck: Cassandra is a middle school art teacher, as well as a full-time artist. She is involved with the local art community and is an advocate for women in the arts. She is also the creator of the city's first contemporary artist collective, Gallery 24. Cassandra lives in Rochester with her husband and daughter.

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(Cover photo: McKay Bram)

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