Curmudgeon’s Corner: The Existential Artist

Breanna Kusnierczyk Gray

You never know when writing for New Bern Now what’s going to show up on your radar that might interest the reader.

In this case, it was an artist I found on Facebook showing her very eclectic-painted works. I was immediately struck by how original she is and how she turns everyday clothing (not canvases) into eye-popping items.

Originally from Philadelphia and a graduate of High Point University where she finished her undergraduate degree in just two years, (GPA 3.6), Breanna Kusnierczyk arrived in New Bern in 2016. She immediately sought out the possibilities of bringing her creations to the public’s attention. She has done that and now hopes to expand her line of painted denim jackets and other merchandise by teaming up with a boutique that features unusual clothes for women who want to dress fashionably but in their own personal way that reflects their lifestyle.

Nobody personifies that goal any more than the auto-didactic artist herself. She eschews the high fashion world of the De la Renta’s and Versace’s mode of designers and instead seeks to create a fashion that is in step with a person’s idiosyncrasies. In her case, this means taking a common piece of clothing like the denim jacket and adorning it with something classy or even humorous. The result is that every time you wear it, you’re making a statement about who you are and your taste in art.

Breanna Kusnierczyk Jacket

I was curious about Breanna enough to invite her to sit down and chat about her past, her work and her goals. What follows is part of our extensive conversation:

What does your work aim to say?

“I wanted to make unconventional clothing that captivated people. To me, there’s nothing more captivating than the human experience, so my art is definitely a response to the stimulus around me. I am passionate about designing for the stories not shared in order to make the world a more inclusive place. I create for the adventurous, the magnetic, the non-judgmental, and the resilient few who dare to dream big and have a voice! It also wouldn’t hurt if they had an appreciation for art and LOVED expressing themselves through clothing (denim jackets in particular).”

Breanna Kusnierczyk

What process, materials, techniques, etc., do you use to create your artwork?

“I prefer to paint vintage denim because the material is so sturdy and beautiful, like a canvas! Working with vintage allows me to give old things new life and make things sustainable. I also love the thrill of the hunt and have become an avid fan of hunting them down myself. Now, if I’m making something for a client, I’ll always ask if they have a jacket, they would like me to paint on first. It’s oftentimes a well-loved piece they’ve had in their closet a long time. Each paint I apply creates a different overall effect and I believe that it is in these subtitle differences each jacket finds its way. My first few jackets were painted using acrylic because it’s vibrant and I had some already. I then mixed in a fabric medium to make the paint supple and the jackets washable. I hand-paint every item myself. The entire process has a lot of care and love put into it.

Breanna’s hand painted jackets can vary in cost depending on the amount of time and detail that goes into them. The price can range from $125 to $400 and reflects hours and hours of painstaking detailing that goes into each garment. In addition to jackets, she has started a line of painted shoes and will be branching out with new concepts in the future.

I titled this piece the “Existential Artist” for a reason. As I dug deeper into Breanna’s world I was struck by her insights. As she told me, “Everything in life has a process and art is no different. Art provided me with the opportunity to conceptualize, reimagine, and reframe a world where one had to grab love wherever they could find it. Art has made me strong, brought me joy and made me who I am today. Kurt Vonnegut said, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”

You’ll be reading more about Breanna’s story in future articles. When dealing with a young (33) creative person like Breanna, I am reminded of a famous Cuban poet who wrote, “A diamond, before being a diamond, is a piece of coal.” This lady is showing her many brilliant facets already and will certainly amaze us with her talents for many years to come.

Breanna can be contacted at 252-639-1552 or send her an email.

Email me with your thoughts.

See you down the road.

Jerry Scott






By Jerry Scott