Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of Art, Art History, and Design
Britta Urness


urness.jpgAcademic Advisor + Teaching Specialist
105C Kresge Art Center
P 517-432-7033



Britta Urness is originally from Black Earth, WI and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004. She then earned her MFA in Painting with a minor in Printmaking from the University of Iowa in 2008. In Iowa City, she founded The Milkmaid Gallery, a mobile "pop-up" gallery in the back of an ice cream truck. The space and it's exhibitions made appearances at local Gallery Walk events from 2006-2008. Urness then came to Michigan State University as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Foundations from 2008-2011. Since Fall of 2011 she has held the position of Academic Advisor and Teaching Specialist, serving students both administratively and in the classroom. In August of 2012, Urness resurrected the Milkmaid Gallery as a more permanent space in her home and continues to curate exhibitions.

Urness has shown her work regionally, including "LOVE FOR SALE (you know you need it)" work·detroit, Detroit, MI; "Bevy" Grand Rapids Art Center, Grand Rapids, MN; and "Look at Me: A Close Look At Contemporary Women", scene(Metrospace), East Lansing, MI. Her work will be featured in the upcoming book "Figure, Face & Identity" from Sprocketbox Publishing of Chicago, IL.


The week after my childhood dog died, I was sent a photo. It was of my mom standing beside a sign. The shadow she cast on the sign was the dog's silhouette.

This example of the power of pictures continually drives me to re-contextualize the known and unknown. I don't focus on the supernatural, but the hope is always that some haunting "otherness" will emerge from my work that is carried by figures, spaces and abstractions.

My current work begins with interest in abstracted figures, hair and hands as a foundation for portraits. I flesh out these symbols of self-image, persona, glamour and visual culture by supporting them within a context which hopes to reflect the headspace of the created character or situation.

When drawing, this is a slower, more exacting process which provides a different tempo at which to manipulate the same kind of subject matter as opposed to painting. The drawings are more patient and rendered and tend to become softer, more surrealist amalgamations of bodies, gestures and objects.

I find the act of drawing and painting to be a guilty pleasure. The result of making my work has led me to understand new things about fears, memory, storytelling and the self. With my work I want to bring forth the visual and cultural ephemera we subconsciously collect, then retranslate it into a new visual experience via portraiture mixed with abstraction.