In today’s economy, many businesses are tightening their purse strings. But for Virginia Bryant and her design label ANON, an instant idea in her artist studio transformed her abstract art into wearable and functional one-of-kind hand bags.
“Last year, I decided to use whatever I had to make a new design. I had old paintings I could not finish,” Bryant recalls from her peaceful studio hidden in a quiet neighborhood in Naples.
Instead of toting her discarded or unfinished original paintings to the trash, Bryant recycled the incomplete pieces into various-sized hand bags, and even larger professional briefcases, with delicately hand-painted designs, and hand-braided shoulder straps.
Then her art patrons started requesting custom purses, and Bryant credits her new idea in purse design and thanks her clients who order each customized wearable piece of art.
“For the first six months of last year, all I sold were purses,” she explained of the purses, which range in price from $200 to $600 each.
Living in Naples for more than 20 years, Bryant also draws upon ruminants of nature in her backyard for inspiration in her works. Additionally, Bryant first majored in theater arts in college in San Francisco, where she then forayed into developing her own style of painting and permanent artworks.
“I had a mentor, the late Beverly Palmer, who trained me, and I also like other artist’s works,” explains Bryant, who garnered many awards during her career as an artist.
As a result of her many influences, Bryant doesn’t stand still for long in her work as an artist and designer.
“I’m going to be reentering the design field, and I’m interested in a new paradigm,” she says. “It’s a privilege to get wrapped up in it.”
Wrapped up indeed, as each one of Bryant’s tastefully designed purses are embellished and meticulously assembled for days after her original sophisticated acrylic abstract painting is developed on canvas, where she then transforms her creation into a purse. Some of her purses have a deeper meaning for the artist. As Bryant extends her vision to purses, she also pursues her art to ultimately protect the environment.
“I’m very interested in recology, which means to use art to recycle waste. Waste is literally choking the life out of the planet,” she said.
So Bryant is already incorporating her collaborative efforts into seeking others in the local art community to come together in recycling and respecting the environment from everything to recycling discarded paintings, to building composting areas in their backyards.
“We must divert the stream from the landfill,” Bryant says.
Janet Go, the recycling coordinator with the Collier County Solid Waste Management Department, commends Bryant’s inventiveness, and calls Bryant’s idea “innovative and outstanding.” At a time, when the landfill in Collier County is reaching unprecedented heights, new ideas are welcomed, Go said.
“She is doing what we preach to most of our public. When you reduce your solid waste stream to the landfill, you do so in order to preserve valuable landfill airspace and conserve natural resources. People don’t realize there are a lot of things you can reuse, and it is almost like trash to treasure,” says Go.
Bryant also shares her vision through writing, and is a new contributor in a online edition of “You Gotta Go Green,” found at www.ugottagogreen.com, which is a web-based local resource for ecology and recycling.
But for Bryant, she admits she has always supported transforming discarded material and found objects into exquisite works of art, like her purses.
“As a society, we have to create our own work. We can’t keep depending on goods made in factory prisons in the Far East. We need to invest in life and art.”
To learn more about Bryant’s art and purses go to http://virginiabryant.tumblr.com.