Brandt Eisner

Shirts Vs Skins

Library Gallery  |  November 5 – December 17, 2021

Artist Statement

Using sports as a theme, Shirts Vs Skins questions what masculinity is, and how our identities are formed through cultural norms.

“Shirts Vs Skins”, is a familiar phrase for any man who has played team sports. Rather than team colours, players would be divided into groups of those who wore shirts or jerseys, and those who went shirtless. The mere thought of this was terrifying because I was a small, skinny kid, ashamed of my body, and I was likely to be teased or bullied.

I come from a family of “jocks”. My father and uncle were considered sports stars in school, and continued to play and coach sports later in life. There were perceived expectations that I too would excel in sports, but I didn’t. Like most effeminate boys, I was very aware of the role I was expected to play, in order to fit in. Boys like me know how we should look, act and talk. We know what the appropriate toys are to play with, and what would be said if we played with the girls. We are hyper-aware that we are being watched and judged constantly.

Society often breaks sports into two categories, the masculine and the feminine. If you play team sports such as hockey, basketball, football or soccer, you are macho. These are the “butch” sports. On the other hand, if you play tennis, figure skate, or do gymnastics, you will probably be called a ‘fruit’ by your schoolmates.

Shirts Vs Skins takes masculine sports equipment and makes them feminine. By using pink, covering them in rhinestones, or using flowers, the pieces become “girly”. By simply altering the notion of “what little boys are made of”, or “Blue is for boys, Pink is for girls”, the work challenges the viewer to reconsider their own views about masculinity, and asks parents and the school system to be conscious of the pressures they place on boys to fit into a “masculine” sports culture at the expense of their creative or artistic interests.


Growing up in a small community on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, I began creating assemblages as a way to express myself, not only as “art for art’s sake”, but also as a form of self-therapy. Fortunately, I was welcomed into the local art community, whose encouragement motivated me to continue to produce and show my work, as well as to get involved in community events such as serving on the Board for the South Shore Festival of the Arts, and organizing art and craft shows.

At the age of eighteen, I opened my first business, ‘Mum n Sun Garden Gallery’. I offered services in landscaping and floral design, while offering goods ranging from bedding plants, to art, craft, antiques and collectibles. After running the business for almost five years, I closed the store and moved to Lower Sackville. After this I spent two years working in various group homes for developmentally challenged adults. Although this was an extremely rewarding experience, the visual arts was where I knew I belonged. With much encouragement from friends and family, I applied to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. After five years of bouncing around between craft and fine art, I graduated with a BFA Interdisciplinary, with my focus being in sculpture.

After graduating from NSCAD in 2005, I began working at Argyle Fine Art in Halifax, N.S. where I became the Assistant Director. After leaving Argyle in 2010 I opened ‘Swoon – Fine Art and Antiques’ on the Hammonds Plains Road, just outside Halifax NS. Although a life changing experience, in 2015, I closed Swoon’s brick and mortar location.

Today I am the curator at ‘The Ice House Gallery’ in Tatamagouche as well as curating and assisting with local art shows at other galleries. Through this I am just as focused on my own art practice.