The term “go big or go home” takes on new meaning for Amanda Browder, a nationally celebrated fabric artist and Missoula native. Browder is in fact returning home to do a larger-than-life exhibit with the Montana Museum of Art and Culture that opens on Oct. 16. 

Currently based in Brooklyn, Browder has been making a major name for herself as a “soft” sculpture artist, which at times delves into the realm of large-scale public sculpture.

Missoulians will get to experience Browder’s work firsthand for the next few months with her “End of the Infinite” exhibit.

First, during a First Friday event on Oct. 3, Browder’s three story tall “Rapunzel” will drape the southwest corner of the Missoula Mercantile building for the evening. 

According to MMAC Director Barbara Koostra, “Rapunzel” is a teaser for the upcoming show.

“It will give people a fabulous sneak preview of what’s to come,” Koostra said.

The exhibit will continue until Jan. 10, 2015, in the Meloy Gallery on the UM Campus and on the outside walls of the PAR TV Building on UM Campus until early January, after a kickoff artist’s reception on Oct. 16.

“Rapunzel” was Browder’s first large scale fabric installation on a building and originally hung out of the third-floor bedroom window of her apartment in Chicago. It was assembled from a five-year collection of fabric, and according to the artist, it was constructed to create color during a gray spring.

Fabric sculptures “Future Phenomenon” and “Good Morning!” will hang at select times from the south and north outside walls of the PAR TV Building.

“It will completely transform the building with big beautiful bursts of color,” Koostra said. “They’re both wonderfully vibrant and huge pieces.”

Browder’s style is unusual not only in the large-scale soft medium she works with, but also in how she collects and recycles materials. 

Missoulians may remember her piece “Spelunca” in 2012, which was created with hundreds of locally donated rock band themed T-shirts.

“Many a Missoulian has a little bit of their history in Spelunca,” she said. 

Many of Browder’s projects work with and engage the community and volunteers.

She holds public sewing days where volunteers sew, trim and pin the whole project together, all bringing new people together to interact and help finish each piece.

“Their stories and volunteer help infuse the pieces into new and exciting works,” she said.  “I hope it creates a sense of ownership and pride. Empowerment via contemporary art.”

 Amanda Browder’s exhibit, End of the Infinite, will be on display October 16 through January 10, 2015 at the Meloy Gallery on the UM Campus. For more information and gallery hours go to www.umt.edu/montanamuseum/ or call 406-243-2019.

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