Brenda Stumpf (American, b.1972) is a contemporary sculptor and painter. Stumpf is a self-taught artist and began exhibiting her work during the mid-1990s. She has been recognized for her intricate use of unorthodox materials such as the paper of steeped tea bags, unraveled rope, sand, plastic flowers, animal bones, salvaged wood, discarded metal, and scraped wallpaper to create sculptures and assembled paintings that have a baroque sensibility intertwined with evocative subject matter. Mythology, mysticism, poetry, and ancient history are deep wells for Stumpf. While deconstructing her materials and recreating anew with the fragments, she takes an almost shamanistic approach – a potent act akin to the cycle of death and rebirth.
Stumpf’s paintings, sculpture, and works on paper have been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, The Butler Institute of American Art, The Littleton Museum, The Strohl Art Center, Pittsburgh Glass Center, and The Outsider Art Fair. The artist’s work has been juried into numerous exhibits by the likes of Jerry Saltz, senior art critic and columnist for New York Magazine; Christoph Heinrich, Director of the Denver Art Museum; Jamie Sterns, writer and the curatorial director of Brooklyn’s Interstate Projects; and Taras Malta, Associate Director and current Acting Director of the University of Maryland Art Gallery.
Designers, architects, institutions, and private clients have commissioned Stumpf to create signature works, and to date, her art resides in over 350 private collections throughout the United States and abroad. Originally from Parma, Ohio, the artist currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Brenda Stumpf makes art to conjure the mysterious and enchanted — to dive into the dark and hide in the secretive. As she works, she is often feeling her way towards something that seems deep, ancient, and timeless by way of the abstract and symbolic.
Working intuitively, Stumpf does not plan or sketch her ideas prior to creating. She has a compulsion to make intricate use of nontraditional and found materials in a way that is akin to alchemy — imbuing them with and transmuting them to an elevated sense of meaning, whether on intimate or physically massive scales.
Stumpf’s work has referenced female historic and mythic figures such as Pandora, Seshat, the Black Madonna, Hatshepsut, the victims of Jack the Ripper, and the women of the Inquisitions. She has also delved into her personal history, playing with nostalgia and memory, and she continues to be inspired by the works of composer Arvo Pärt and the poetry of Pablo Neruda and Rainer Maria Rilke.
From Stumpf’s perspective, there is profound healing in the creation of art; it provides the transcendent conditions necessary to understanding and mending one’s life and ancestral lineage as well as relieving the collective pain body. For her, creating art is a mystical and alchemical process, and she works within a shamanic environ that transcends time and space.