James Michael Starr
24-1/2” x 12” x 12”
Globe, cast metal figure, ball
I picked "Flightless" because it meets several of the criteria I've established for a sculptural piece to feel successful to me, and that doesn't happen very often. First of all, it touches on some aspect of the human condition – which one, I'm not sure. As with my titles, I had something in mind at the time and have since forgotten. But that mystery is important to me – and it's made even more enjoyable when I'm just as much in the dark as everyone else.
In contrast to the gravity of a theme like "the human condition" is a sense of the comic or absurd. This figure with its gigantic head becomes almost like a cartoon. Other more overt contrasts are there, too. Richly patinaed color against dark bronze, stark geometry against the organic lines of the human figure, and big ball vs little ball.
Just recently I was in the gallery that sells my work here in Dallas and, when I came upon "Flightless" unexpectedly, I was surprised how much I liked it. I really don't care to have my own work in my home, but this is one that I might not mind seeing on a regular basis.
With each art piece that I create I find that my favourites are forever changing. Whether it be a new technique that I have discovered or an improved way of doing something, I find that I am constantly learning and challenging myself to create something that once finished I can look at and feel proud that I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
Currently the assemblages that are the most special to me would be....
Sometimes I plan what I want to achieve before I even start the creation process. I might have a theme in mind, an idea that has been buzzing around in my head, or I may have an item, treasured trinket or photograph that is inspiring me to get to work. Once I have a rough idea of what I want the piece to be about I usually start to gather together the elements that I feel might work. Once I have all of these things in place, I start. However for this particular piece things didn't work like this at all. I had been having trouble getting the ideas from my head into action and I was getting frustrated at not being able to make some sort of sense of my thoughts, thus resulting in a creativity blockage. After a few feeble attempts at trying to get something started and having no luck, the solution to my creativity blockage was...
open drawer that contains supplies
pull out the very first thing that your fingers touch
make something using it
The first object that my fingers touched was an old oval shaped tin pie dish, hence 'Escapology' was created.
'Escapology' is currently one of my favourite pieces for a couple of reasons, it was created without any planning, no theme in mind, and no direction as to where I wanted to go with it, a process that I normally don't do. It kind of just happened. However, once finished and I was looking over the piece it suddenly struck me that this assemblage that was born out of sheer frustration had so much personal meaning for me that it was quite scary. 'Escapology' had unbeknown to me resulted in the portrayal of a disability that I have called Fibromyalgia. A lot of my work centres around my health and personal issues but for me to create this with no conscious intention of doing so and for it to be so symbolic for me really was a strange experience. Just goes to show that art really does express what is within us, whether it be consciously or sub-consciously.
"Static in the System"
This is a favourite mainly because of the symbolism behind it. Again this piece relates to my health, but unlike 'Escapolgy' this assemblage was planned so I knew where I was going with this one. Another reason that 'Static in the System' is a favourite is because I discovered a new technique while I was creating this. I knew that I wanted to create a rusted effect over partial areas but I didn't have enough naturally rusty bits so I attempted to create surface rust using modeling compound and course dry sand, of course it's not as good as the real thing but the texture effect worked quite well and I was able to paint it in a rust colour to enhance the texture.
This assemblage is another favourite of mine, it is quite different to what I usually create. The whole idea of what I had in mind changed during the assembling of it, however I think that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm happy with the the end result and although it's not the same as the idea that I had in mind before I began I think that this different direction halfway through the creation process was a good thing. After all it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind! For the reason that your mind should always be open to change and new ideas, 'Fusion' is memorable for me because of the process that created it as well as the finished piece.
This is a recent piece that was fraught with so many technical issues that I was thrilled when it was finally done. It seems the more an idea or the elements fight against me the more I begin to admire its tenacity.
I was trying out a technique from
I was able to repair said heart with the worst cracks being at the back and they wouldn’t really show anyway. Yay! Plus one for me. Then one day, while readying the heart to be glued into the box, it jumped … just jumped … out of my hands and crashed to the floor. This time the repair wouldn’t be so easy. Deciding to make lemonade (think: get lemons? make lemonade!) I figured I could use the remaining shards as part of the piece. Hence my title "Chrysalis".
The Michael DeMeng piece I did at his class. I love the 3D effect of the camera with the man in behind it. It was my first go at playing with paints. I love the metal wings painted -- that is my favorite bit. They came up so awesome from the bright gold they started with.
I have included an assemblage. It is the first I created, in Italy, when I attended a Michael Demeng workshop. The place, the instruction, the Italian "junking", but mostly the people I was lucky enough to meet and share ideas with made it an amazing experience.
This was a piece that I made in a class that I took from Keith LoBue. It is made almost entirely from junk that we found on the street, I'm still amazed that I could have assembled anything from all of that junk. It was also my first taste of using cold connections instead of glue, which was quite the challenge for me.