Written by Caitlyn Cooney, Curatorial Intern
The process of viewing and falling in love with an art piece is an experience that one rarely forgets. The physical experience is often intoxicating, almost disorienting, walking through a space and seeing a piece that seems to hold its own magnetic charge pulling the viewer towards it. This moment and experience is what art collector Brandon Choy bases his selections off of. Each piece in his collection has made an impression on him, branding the moment of first time he saw it into his memory. He states, “When you collect something you love, you remember where you saw it, the day you bought, or when you saw something like it and searched for it. You learn about the artists and their cultures and about a specific place in time. Art expands the mind in a way other studies can’t.”
For Choy, art is a gateway for understanding the world around him, for learning and experiencing other cultures, lifestyles, and people. His sizeable collection ranges from the old masters to contemporary artists, abstract expressionists to ethnographic material. He collects objects based off of his love and experience with each individual piece, taking into account his experience with the culture, the artist, and the very context in which he first discovered it.
Choy’s recently developed passion for African currency has composed his featured collection, amounting to a total of thirteen cultural objects from various tribes throughout the African continent. Many of the objects are dual purposed, serving as currency and trading goods, as well as tools for manual labor or combat. For example, his iron, spade-shaped, bladed object entitled Jembe Currency is also used agriculturally as a hoe blade by the Sukuma People of Central Tanzania. Similarly, several objects from Choy’s collection have the suggested purpose of being worn, such as cuffs, bracelets, and anklets. The Mbole Anklet from the Mbole people of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is used as both an object of ornamentation, as well as a dowry, holding a cultural significance past that of its monetary value.
Many of his pieces were chosen not only for their cultural significance, but for their modernist aesthetic. They range in size, shape, fabrication, and even time period, yet each of the pieces selected are joined by a common quality of design. Choy states, “I love the contemporary shapes and looks, the simple lines and forms. I’m attracted to their modern feel. They’re beautiful, and they mix and match well with my contemporary pieces.” Though his collection is spread across cultures, eras, media, and styles, Choy has obtained an assortment that speaks to his vision as a collector and an art lover. It represents his life as a sort of visual diary, compiling his experiences through the objects he has collected.
The exhibition Collectors’ Choice: Inside the Hearts and Minds of Regional Collectors will be on view from May 17th to September 14th, 2014.
For more information, please visit the Cummer’s website at https://www.cummer.org/