For all its plainness, bread is a surprisingly versatile symbol. Consider for a moment the memories, images and connections your mind stirs when you see or smell bread. I saw a photo of a stack of bread one day, and my eyes were stuck.  It was like coming upon an old familiar object, but you can’t quite remember why you know it so well.  

            For me, bread symbolizes my history and family. We are from Ukraine, the “Bread Basket” of Europe, and my grandfather “Dzedunya” made the most aromatic, hearty breads to fill our bellies when we were young.  

            Bread goes even further than this physical sustenance - it is also a symbol of generosity, of sharing, of being in community, and being open-handed and open-hearted.  There is an invaluable necessity of being in an honest community of people that are willing to be real with one another, to share the substance of their being like bread with me

            And at our most visceral core is bread’s representation of a hunger for communion with divine.  Bread is a pervasive symbol of remembering the advent of God’s taking on flesh and blood – bread and wine. Its our realization of our need for the “give us today our daily bread” prayer, the vital sustenance that must feed us daily.


          I explored that stack of bread – dissecting it to pieces, rearranging its parts, and manipulating its colors. As I translated the colors and forms to canvas, I progressed from the most simplified shapes (I) to slowly introducing alternate textures and approaches (II, III, IV). 

          It was all highly conceptual, analyzed, and planned.  Until one day I came in and painted early one Sunday morning on a whim. I quit analyzing the elements as Daily Bread V took its form, pushing and pulling to get beyond my mind and into my visceral memory. And then VI came barreling after, trumping what remained of my inhibitions and analytical reserve, with its abstracted way of baring my psyche nakedly on the canvas.

          The paintings that followed (VII-X) became a back-and-forth conversation between the analyzed beginning of the series and the charged breakthroughs, as I was ushered into a more responsive, rather than forced, approach to realism than I had previously had, as well as a new understanding of the potential energy in my more primal creative self (XI, XII).

          I continued the series, but changed directions – I wondered, with how much the bread revealed my self, if I could do the same with other people. Paintings XIII and XIV were approached from my background in psychology and with my studies of color theory, as I used color, movement, and design to capture what I believed to be the essence of two of my close friends. 


         Because this is a series that has been happening over time, there is a point to be made in how my environment is shaping the textures, colors, and approach that I choose, which transfigures month by month, year by year.  I have seen this same unfolding in the inward, outward, and upward parts of my life – I approach myself, my community, and spirituality in a very different way that I did just a year ago.  I am learning, expanding, and changing, and so is my bread.  

          Each piece is approximately 30x40

          Grouped photo taken at Eide/Dalrymple gallery in Sioux           Falls, 2012


© Regina William Brunz / regina.brunz@gmail.com