Monday, March 24, 2008

Playing Favorites: assemblage

James Michael Starr

“Flightless” (2007)
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
close eyes
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.


Jen Worden


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 Jane Wynn’s new book "altered Curiousities" cutting into a glass object. I taped the blown glass heart per her instructions, scored my opening and Voila! a not quite perfect but still discernible heart-shaped opening. I was in love! Shoulda known better because clearly my Muse was enjoying the prospect of inflicting pain. While clamping the bug inside the heart, the clamp slipped off and the heart shattered all over my studio. Okaaaayyyyy.

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".


Jen Crossley

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.


Karen Cole

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.


Leighanna Light

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.


Ro Bruhn said...

What a fabulous collection of assemblages, there are some very talented people out in blog land. Love reading their stories too.

Mary Buek said...

What a tremendous job you've done to assemble, review, and post all this art in one place. And the artists that have responded in the "Assemblage" section are phenomenal. Thanks for all your hard work, Seth.

Peggi Meyer Graminski said...

Fantastic assemblages! It is quite an inspiration to read the artists comments while viewing their incredible work. Thanks Seth - for organizing this event!

Anonymous said...

Amazing collection! Great job putting this all together, Seth!

sf said...

MY LORD! I wish (being the Taurus who is not allowed to enter the shop of "No Touching") I could sneak a tactile of any of these pieces. . .
Thanks, Seth!

rivergardenstudio said...

Wow Seth, this collection is incredible, the assemblages are amazing and the words from the artists so inspiring. Thank you for such a treat on my first day off on spring break. Just to let you know, I am working on the cover of my book for our exchange this week! Roxanne

Anonymous said...

Pulling myself up from the see, I pulled up your Blog and my computer exploded, shooting out pieces of rust, wire and very interesting Found Objects. They're mine now.
If you keep this up, you'll have to start calling out for Chinese Food since you'll be posting for the next few months!

Nice work from your Army of Admirers and nice work from YOU.

Lisa H.

Terry said...

So exciting to see all this work and to get introduced to new artists. Love having the artist's comments too, they give a much stronger sense of the pieces. Thanks for putting this all together, Seth, you're brilliant :-)

Kristy C said...

This is awesome , Seth! I look forward to tomorrow to see more!

Kim Mailhot said...

Thank you Seth for all the hard work you have put into to creating this collection ! The chance for all of us to visit your virtual museum or gallery is so specialand so inspirational. I love that we get a chance to "hear" the artists' voices through their words as well as their artwork. Thanks again.

&rew said...

What a fantastic gallery! Thank you so much for such a great job!

Chris said...

Oh, my heavens, I love assemblage! And I'm just getting time to try my hand at some, so I'm very happy to see these! They are marvelous.
Thank you!

Karen Cole said...


I'm completely blown away by what you have put together here and honored to be included among such talented people.

I'm currently in Mexico on business but was able to take a moment to let you know how much you are appreciated.

Adios and hasta la vista- Karen