Coffee Shops Inspire Artist To Create Massive Sculptures

Jonathan Brilliant is a sculptor of massive art installations who has found inspiration in the culture of the coffee shop. No mere finger painter in the medium of coffee stains is he, but a creator of visuals from ordinary aspects of his natural environment, the coffee shop. His latest exhibit opens this Wednesday in Richmond, Virginia. This exhibit, called “Stick Stack Show” reflects inspiration from the lowly coffee stirrer. Yes, and in fact, Brilliant has brilliantly (sorry, couldn’t resist) taken the stirrer to new heights as he uses them for the central component of his works.

While he also incorporates other coffee shop staples such as sugar packets, coffee sleeves and lids, he finds the stirrers are “the easiest way to draw my way around a space”. In his exhibit installations, he weaves 30,000 to 60,000 stirrers together without glue, using only tension and compression. Jo Lord reported that these sculptures have exceptional visual and spatial impact. It could also be the combination of strength and fragility that attracts the eye, as these opposites intertwine in the same sculpture. Surprisingly, though Brilliant finds the “laptop farms” within the coffee shop culture fascinating, he can “take or leave” the coffee. It’s the interaction - and lack of it - that fascinated him.

People bring their work to do in the social atmosphere of the shop, then proceed to ignore those around them. This mystifies Brilliant but attracts him at the same time, as he watches customers interacting with the disposable coffee dispensing materials. If this art intrigues you, you can watch a video of the young artist as he creates this art at his website: The photo above shows his stirrer sculpture, but more can be seen at his site or by clicking on the image. Maybe you’ll be inspired to attempt your own sculpture or collage on paper. A word about supplies: Brilliant orders his own straight from the manufacturer, but any restaurant supply store should have them. Brew on, creatively.

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