1965, Louisville, KY
At the age of five, many conflicts were evident for Brent and he should have been warned that these differences might be driving forces for some time. The story has been told that he leaned forward in the ‘69 white VW bug and expressed his desire to become a lawyer and work part time at his favorite department store, “Tops”. This desire was one of extreme practicality and greed. It would take years of continual encouragement and suggestions by many wonderful mentors for him to pursue art as his passion. Special thanks go out to two of his most important mentors, Sonny and Jan. Without these two he wouldn’t know what it was like to drive a backhoe, live in a Mediterranean décor, know the Beatles and experience the true devotion of a dog.
Being blessed with wonderful committed teachers as mentors has been a gift of Brent’s. First and foremost, after parents, the most influential of these mentors remains his high school art teacher, Mildred "Millie" Fraley, 1947-2002. As many, Brent was quite open to suggestion as a teenager and during this time it was Millie who made a lasting impression with her devotion, talent and a move out of her high school office to make it Brent’s first studio. It was this continual devotion that Brent benefited from in his wonderful mentor and her presence in his life have made an immeasurable difference. Later, Brent received his BFA in Sculpture and Functional Art from Murray State University in 1987 followed by a MFA in Sculpture from Indiana University in 1990.
While Brent’s background is in sculpture, he primarily makes studio furniture these days when he is not teaching or working to promote change through collaborative making in the Asheville community. Although his studio practice is currently not full time, he maintains an active commission schedule and a vibrant studio as a Grovewood Gallery artist in residence.
Brent has been teaching in many capacities for 24 years at universities and many of the craft programs across the nation such as Penland, Arrowmont, Anderson Ranch and Peter’s Valley. While in Charlotte, from 1991 to 2004, Brent taught at Central Piedmont Community College and UNC Charlotte. After these appointments, he left academia to pursue life as a full time maker during the years of 1998 to 2004. In 2004, he received the coveted North Carolina Individual Artists Fellowship. Following this, he relocated his family to take a position at Kendall College of Art and Design where he taught 3-D design, Woodworking and Functional Art and was an instrumental leader in their newly established BFA degree in Sculpture and Functional Art.
In 2007, Brent returned to North Carolina to serve as Director of the Craft Studies program at UNC Ashville where he currently serves as Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History and teaches an array of offerings in art and craft studies, including the History of American Studio Craft, all levels of sculpture, functional art and serves as mentor to students across disciplines. Along with his commitment to his family, avid bike riding, hiking, studio work and educational positions he serves as an advocate for craft education, scholarship, and the professional development of young artists. Brent serves as a board member for the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design, working to advance the awareness and importance of craft in academia and the mainstream. He is also a board member for Craft Emergency Relief Fund, CERF+ in Montpelier, VT that works to safeguard and sustain the careers of craft artists and provides emergency resources that benefit all artists.