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McLean sculptor entrusts local arts nonprofit with life’s work

Respected McLean artist Emilie Brzezinski has gifted her work to the McLean Project of the Arts, which has been trusted with shaping “the next chapter” of her artistic legacy, the nonprofit said on Friday (April 30).

The gift was publicly announced a day earlier at MPA’s ArtSprings! Virtual Benefit, a fundraiser that featured live music, a silent auction, and an appearance by Czech Republic Ambassador to the United States Hynek Kmoníček.

“The entire MPA community is honored to receive this spectacular gift from Emilie Brzezinski and thrilled to work with the Brzezinski family in celebrating her vision of art in nature,” MPA Executive Director Lori Carbonneau said.

Known for creating large wood sculptures carved with an ax and chain saw, Brzezinski was born in Geneva, Switzerland, and grew up in California, but she lived and worked in McLean for much of her career, building her own studio in the house she shared with her late husband and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

After Brzezinski relocated to Florida, the Fairfax County Park Authority acquired the 5.45-acre Spring Hill property in November. The agency has not determined a use for the land yet, but it is currently being preserved as open space and could potentially be turned into a community park, according to MPA.

Brzezinski’s connection to the McLean Project for the Arts goes back to the 1980s, when MPA Curator and Exhibitions Director Nancy Sausser first displayed her work.

Her family says that longstanding relationship and their respect for MPA’s role in supporting the local arts community made it a natural custodian for her work.

“My family and I are thrilled that MPA has accepted our gift of mom’s many and magnificent sculptures,” Ian Brzezinski, Emilie’s son and an MPA board member, said. “We are excited to continue and strengthen this relationship by giving MPA the lead in celebrating mom’s incredible body of work.”

Here is more on Brzezinski’s career from MPA’s news release:

Born in 1932 in Geneva, Switzerland, Emilie Brzezinski immigrated to the United States with her parents and grew up in California. She graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in Art History in 1953. Brzezinski began her art career in the 1970s working with a variety of media, including resins, latex, and wood fiber. Her expressive themes always related to nature. Eventually, she shifted focus to creating monumental wood sculpture, using a chain saw and ax to carve towering forms that breathed new life into felled trunks.

Over the past two decades, Brzezinski has had many gallery and museum installations in the U.S. and abroad. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Corcoran Museum and the Kreeger Museum, both in Washington, D.C., and has been shown at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, D.C., and the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. Her art can also be seen at sculpture parks across North America, including the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey, the Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton, Ontario, the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in New York and the Socrates Sculpture Park in New York. MPA Curator and Exhibitions Director, Nancy Sausser, first showed Brzezinski’s work in the 1980’s.

Many of Brzezinski’s works are in the Czech Republic, the country of her family’s origin. There, “Prague Titans” gazes upon the Vltava River, and a more restrained installation, “Broken Blocks,” can be seen in the National Gallery in Prague.

Photo courtesy McLean Project for the Arts

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