For Carrie Brown, early exposure to a Picasso sculpture unexpectedly shaped her entire career. A woman with a heart of gold, she has dedicated her work to impacting the communities in which she lives through accessible public art. Her influence can be seen throughout the country in cities including Los Angeles, Mesa, Glendale, Austin and San Antonio. As Public Art Curator for the San Antonio River Authority, Brown is passionate about engaging artists to celebrate the diverse perspectives of the local community through creative experiences for everyone to enjoy. As San Antonians and visitors alike explore San Pedro Creek Culture Park, they’ll find Brown’s most recent meaningful mark. She shares the winding path that led her to Texas, her passion for collective creative impact, and who has supported her along the way.
On her background:
As a young girl, I wanted to be a variety of things when I grew up: an Olympic gymnast, a paleontologist, a physical therapist. How I became a public art curator is a bit of a mystery. I didn’t grow up in a family of artists, but I did go to public schools that exposed me to art from kindergarten through high school. Also, growing up outside of Chicago, I had access to world-class museums, galleries and public art. I’ll never forget the feeling I got the first time I saw Picasso’s sculpture in Daley Plaza. I was awestruck and giddy, drawn to it like a magnet.
I found my voice in photography, a medium that allowed me to express myself without the words I struggled to find. While studying photography in college, I stumbled upon an opportunity to work on the Phoenix-area light rail project. Truthfully, I wasn’t exactly sure what the job entailed, but I knew I would get to work with artists on a large-scale infrastructure project. It wasn’t my plan, in fact it was a departure from my studies, but it felt right. Maybe it was that memory of Picasso quietly guiding me in this moment, or my subconscious saying this was how I could have a greater impact in my community. Either way, I’m glad I listened.
In a way, I have come full circle. I started with a large-scale infrastructure project in Phoenix and now, 15 years later, here I am working on a large-scale infrastructure project in San Antonio. It has been an incredible journey and I’m grateful to have landed in San Antonio. I am honored to be working on the San Pedro Creek Culture Park.
On her career in public art:
My career path has taken me to three states and six cities, from light rail to creek, and from small communities to big cities. Because of this experience, I’ve developed a passion for engaging young artists, exploring new art forms, and incorporating diverse perspectives. I’ve learned to take risks and not be afraid of an uncertain outcome. I’ve also become a better listener and learned how to translate feedback from artists and community members into achievable goals.
On passions and the pursuit of community impact:
While living in Austin, I volunteered with a non-profit rescue organization that advocated for Pit bull type dogs. After a while, I started fostering and ultimately adopted one of my fosters. It was amazing to see these neglected and sometimes abused dogs blossom into their true, loving selves. Simply showing kindness and providing stability allowed them to shake their past and lead a peaceful life.
I’m no longer with that organization but I continue to advocate for Pit bull type dogs in many ways–with insurance companies, homeowners’ associations, landlords, shelters and the public. As a quiet and introspective child, I know what it feels like to be misunderstood. I’m happy to be their voice.
On her personal female hero:
I don’t know if she knows this, but my mother has always been one of my personal heroes. She has persevered through many challenges in life and through it all she has always supported and loved me without conditions. She has been a consistent sounding board and champion of my professional endeavors. She has challenged me and reassured me at every major milestone in my life. Most importantly, she makes me laugh uncontrollably. I would not be who I am today if it were not for my mighty mom.
This profile was (Em)Powered by San Antonio River Authority.
Edited from an interview by Eleanora Morrison.