Brandon Bullard’s grandmother drove a Mercedes. His grandfather drove a Mercedes. His mother drove one, too. So when it came time for Bullard to produce a piece of art as part of his graduate studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art it seemed only natural to create something for the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Experiencing Perspectives program.
The Colorado native first “played” the project in his head to come up with just the right formula for his original fiber art piece. The answer was to use items from Mercedes that would be would be conversation starters to create the custom artwork .
He chose Mercedes tires, seat belts, motor belts, beach towels, promotional materials, office materials and, for course, the famed Mercedes three-point star emblem. He made prints of the tires and wove all of the material into two large pieces of fiber art that adorn the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services regional headquarters in Farmington Hills.
“While my work space at Cranbrook is great, my real studio is the one in my head and what I love about making installations is the opportunity to engage with communities while I am creating,” says Bullard. “It is very much a dialogue with the people, as well as the environment and my own vision that informs what I ultimately create.”
Bullard says he was inspired by the Automobile Tire Print made by famed artist Robert Rauschenberg in 1953. The artist had composer John Cage bring his Model A Ford to his New York Studio. He poured paint in front of the car’s rear tire and had Cage drive slowly over twenty sheets of paper he had glued together. The resulting print records a twenty-two-foot tread mark.
Mercedes donated the two tires Bullard needed for his work. With help from the communications team, he got the other items from dealerships and other Mercedes offices.
Once he had all the pieces the project began. Over the course of a week Bullard installed his work on two ceilings in the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services building. The 12 ft. by 16 ft. work is outside President and CEO Peter Zieringer’s office. The second, a 12 ft. by 7 ft. work is outside the main conference room.
This was not a quick or easy job. Bullard worked from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. most days and until 2 a.m. the final day, weaving the pieces together. The tire tracks are the key element. They are woven into what looks like the Mercedes star emblem. The grey and white prints make up the circle and the three points of the star. An actual chrome emblem rests inside the middle of that star and is visible only through the cloth.
The custom work of art is part of the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services 16th annual Experiencing Perspectives art exhibition, which features the work of Cranbrook students and graduates.
The Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Experiencing Perspectives program encompasses annual art exhibitions, art tours, community conversations and other art events. It began in with Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2001. Since then, the works of Cranbrook’s graduate students have been displayed at the Farmington Hills regional headquarters.
“Our long-standing partnership with the renowned Cranbrook Academy of Art enriches our employees and informs our culture, while giving exposure to talented emerging artists studying in our community,” says Zieringer. “Each year, we see new opportunities to enhance the connection between business and the arts. For the first time, we have had an artist create custom artwork on site as part of our annual exhibition. We were honored to have Brandon Bullard with us for a week, enabling team members to share in his artistic process.”
Bullard’s work and the works others in this year’s Experiencing Perspectives program will be on display for one year at the company’s Farmington Hills regional headquarters. A community open house will be held on Nov. 2, during which Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Cranbrook faculty and students and other members of the community will come together to celebrate the artists whose works are being exhibited this year.
For now though, Bullard is looking forward to his last year at Cranbrook and his future.
“I want to create a business to makes art for homes and businesses, hopefully for companies like Mercedes-Benz,” he says.
“Mercedes was part of my childhood. I grew up with my family driving them.”
There is interest from other Mercedes operations.
Bullard, who has already done work for some galleries and TV shows, hopes whatever his future holds it will let him travel the world because “getting to new places is always a team effort. You can’t do it alone.”
No matter which way it goes Bullard sees it all as of part life’s puzzle coming together.