We had the good fortune of connecting with Bria Goeller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bria, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
My compass, for better and worse, consistently orients me towards whatever isn’t happening. Whatever is hard, or different, or isn’t being said or done. Whoever isn’t being paid attention to. If I think I can help tell a story that needs to be told, I’m motivated. I would say that’s why I’m an artist: the need to prove the worth in things that aren’t valued. Somewhere between stubbornness and a deep-seeded need to be myself – and to allow others to be. An eye on the people that are trying so hard to be seen. An ear to the ideas that need mentioning. And a longing for solitude (and sweatpants).
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art focuses on connection, on vulnerability, and on stories. Each piece I do for myself is a chance for me to be open and honest about what I’m experiencing. Each piece for someone else tries to help them do the same. I think everyone’s a little like everyone else, and that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t say I’m unique in any way, but I’m definitely grateful for my ability to cross genre lines and work with different media. I’m a visual artist (paints, pens, paper, pencils), but I also straddle the digital sphere. I do film and I write. I take photos sometimes. And, although no one (NO ONE) will ever hear me play, I’m also a musician. I play the piano and guitar, and a little ukulele and cello and kalimba and whatever else is around. I value the different feelings and effects each form of expression allows for. I like being interdisciplinary. I’ve always wanted freedom, I’ve never liked being told what to do, and I’ve always wanted to do a thousand things at once. This, of course, in real life, sometimes translates to “I don’t want security, direction, or consistency.” Some people told me an interdisciplinary career would be too difficult, advising me to choose what was safest and most dependable. Some people encouraged me to do it all, and helped give me the language to explain my choices. Everyone, no matter what side they were on, warned me it would be hard. I believed them. I was ready for hard. But yeah, it’s been hard in ways I could not have been ready for. Being an artist is exhausting and confusing, but it’s also so rewarding. Every artist says that, but it’s true. There’s a freedom in it. Being on my own does cause me more stress in an already stressful world, but it also lets me escape from that world. It lets me create a work environment and schedule that’s right for me. It lets me choose who I work for and what I do, which makes it easy to advocate for causes I believe in. In terms of overcoming the challenges … I value my personal well-being more than I value success, and I value the well-being of others more than I value profit. That helps. I also credit my relationship for helping me create a life that’s sustainable. This may not be good to admit in a professional sense, but I value my partner more than I value my clients. I have a reason for living that exists beyond my career. I have the support I need and a place to put my love. Those things make it easy to find balance. And inspiration. Off time is sacred time, and off time is when I have the best ideas. And again, I’ve got this thing in me that makes me steer toward the path of most resistance. On a personal level, it’s truly comical – to the point that, when everyone in the room is in agreement with me, I’ll find myself arguing for the opposite stance just for the hell of it. It’s why I chose this career and am sticking to it now, even in a pandemic, when so many people are arguing that it’s nonessential. I think that might add more fuel to the fire. I chose not to go to art school, and, given who I am, I genuinely think that saved my art career. The university I decided to go to had recently defunded its art department, and I went on a mission to prove that art was worthy to be taken seriously. I designed my own curriculum and found a place within the university to, ultimately, argue for creativity in a world that undervalues it. It resulted in a career fighting for the voices of marginalized groups – and a personal fight to become an independent artist. All I have to say is: we better hope that there’s always something to fight for. If this world takes a turn for the utopic, I’m in for a tough reckoning.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I really don’t know. I blame COVID and introversion.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Everyone’s just an amalgamation of the people around them. I have too many people in my life to adequately answer this question. But here are a few: Carlton Mackey, who I believed I mentioned before when we did the other article – he’s become a graciously willing mentor to me, and had a lot to do with my growth as an artist and activist. My partner and closest friend, Fredrick Leon, who has not only given me the permission and the language to be and accept who I am and what I value, but also was my first unofficial therapist, taught me the value of vulnerability, and continues to hold me up now – through my strongest moments, and my tears. And my family. I’m starting to notice parts of them that are integral to who I am and my success. My mom, the strongest, most altruistic of advocates. My dad, the entrepreneur visionary. And of course, my sister, who has always believed in me (and has a little less fear-based anxiety than my parents!), and supported my choices even when she thinks they’re really weird.