Assemblage Art & Artists
ASSEMBLAGE ART & ARTISTS I started to dabble in found object assemblage art many years ago, back in 2003 when my eBay career first started. I used to attend auctions and would often take home box lots of junk, sometimes even for free, that nobody else wanted. In one of the junk box lots I had taken home, were several old cigar boxes. I began my assemblage art by creating little art scenes in the old cigar boxes and sold them on eBay. The majority of my friends and family didn't understand them, but that never mattered to me. Most of cigar box assemblage art scenes I created I liked to infuse with humor. One assemblage cigar box piece I created was with some old bambi toys & books I set up to look as if Bambi had been smoking and that he was actually the one responsible for the forest fire. I liked the idea of telling a story with items/materials that I had on hand without having to purchase the typical art supplies.
Around 2005 and very early 2006 when I started to hold 'raw art auctions' to showcase and sell the works of other self-taught / raw artists my eyes were opened to the amazing works of so many southern folk artists who were creating art from discarded junk and items that others would never see as typical artist supplies. Two of my favorite trips during this time were to meet and visit with artist Butch Anthony at his property in Alabama. He graciously let me browse for hours and invited us into his home too. I just remember gazing at all his beautifully odd creations he would make out of what others would send directly to the trash heap. I was also blessed with getting to meet Ab The Flagman, Roger Lee Ivens, and see his unbelievable eagle and flag assemblages that he was making out of reclaimed wood. Those two artists really were the first to inspire me to keep thinking outside of the box and let my mind wander and see everything and anything as an art supply.
It wasn't until 2007, during a conversation with an art collector in my booth during an art expo in New York, did I learn of the assemblage artist Robert Rauschenberg. The collector told me that there were aspects of my work that reminded him of Rauschenberg, when I told him that I did not know who that was he looked at me as if I had three heads. He assured me that he was paying me a compliment and that I should look up the assemblage work of Robert Rauschenberg. I did. I was utterly amazed and immediately drawn in once again to see someone taking items that most would never see as art and create.
It wasn't until 2014 that I started creating large-scale found object assemblages. My husband also loves to pick up and collect weather woods, rusted metal and unusual antique items that we find on our hikes. We were amassing quite a collection of junk not really sure what we wanted to do with it all, just that we loved all the quirky pieces we were collecting. I wanted artwork to fit a 'vintage industrial' yet antique farmhouse interior decor style to put on the walls of an old farmhouse we were renovating. Finding nothing that I liked anywhere else I decided to make the pieces for my home myself and viola! my large scale found object assemblage pieces began.
I have always found the most enjoyment in my art studio when I was making mixed media/collage pieces, or creating with junk and found objects. I love the process of painting my abstract art paintings, and I get truly lost in my circle drawings, but to me those styles are more of a cathartic, natural artistic process for me. Actually almost like a therapy.. a releasing of emotions I guess is how I describe what I am going through when I am painting or creating my circle drawings. When I just want to let loose and have FUN in my studio I always find myself gravitating to collage and mixed media assemblage work.
The base of my art collectors have always been more drawn to my paintings, so I think my assemblage/collage works unintentionally and perhaps even subconsciously took a backseat to my 'pay the bills' artworks.
Here I am now in 2022, able to retire but with no desire to so, and I find myself turning to my mixed media and found object assemblages again as a retreat from my paintings and collage. I honestly believe my shift right now too is in part due to my being completely worn out from the constant onslaught of trying to protect my intellectual property from Chinese counterfeiters selling counterfeit copies of my abstract paintings and collage dogs. The three dimensional aspect of found object / mixed media assemblage art gets me further away from Keck replicas being created and confused as the originals.
I just have the desire to have FUN in my studio once again and that naturally had me gravitating to rummaging around in the piles and stacks of reclaimed wood, old rusty tools and metal, found objects, boxes of vintage & antique items we've gathered over the years, to find just the perfect pieces to assemble together to create assemblages that tell stories.
As I got back to the found object / junk assemblage art again I immediately found myself forming and assembling the objects in the form of the cross, a symbol that repeats itself over and over again in my works no matter if I am painting, collaging or assembling found objects. The cross symbol to me is both dark and light. Dark yet uplifting at the same time. One can look at the cross and think of the torture and the pain of Christ being crucified. Others look at it as the symbol of the ultimate love. My abstract paintings have always been described as both dark and light simultaneoulsy and this is what I see in the cross. After my sister passed the symbol of the cross holds an even deeper meaning to me now as a sign from her that she is still watching over me.
I think assemblage art is an art form that grabs hold of artists from all different walks of life and for so many different reasons. Assemblage art for some artists I believe started from the concept of taking pre-existing, NON-art objects with the specific and deliberate purpose of turning those items into art. The concept, this is not art, but I've made it art. I believe other assemblage artists, throughout time, who have found themselves wanting to create but unable to afford typical art supplies created assemblage art out of the sheer will to make art with what they had on hand. Still other assemblage artists, and I find myself in this category often, love the idea of taking items that would otherwise be sent to landfills to litter our earth and turn them into objects of beauty and not waste. I see assemblage art as an environmentally friendly way to beautify the world through recycling and repurposing the discarded junk.
I personally love the nostalgia that is conjured up when I create assemblage art from vintage and antique discarded junk. It is fun to see the looks on people's faces when they see pieces of old game boards or old toys, for example, that remind them of their childhood. I also truly enjoy the perplexed look on the art collector's face when they see the unusual juxtaposition of completely unrelated items in my assemblage art pieces and hear them ask me such things as what made you think of putting those items together like that?
With my assemblage art pieces many of them will sit for days, months, sometimes even years, as a few of my cross art assemblage piece have done, just waiting for the moment that the perfect found object presents itself to complete the assemblage. I would have to say the assemblage artists that I am personally most inspired by I would say it would be Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg, Butch Anthony, Roger Lee Ivens, George Herms, La Wilson, and Louise Nevelson.
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