Open Studios at Artisan's Asylum on Saturday, Dec 1st was amazing. Over 300 people came by to see the 30,000 sq. feet of artist studios & workshops. I talked with lots and lots of people including families, children, other artists, neighbors and 3 dogs.
I set up a small table and chair (which I made in class) by my 2 pallets. My pallets are piled high with tools, art supplies and "materials" with which to make mosaics: obsolete engineering parts, cards, pictures, fabric everything I've never had the heart to throw away.
About 20 of my small collages and 6 large colorful prints were on display. I gave my shpeel (story in Yiddish) over and over until I had it down. By the end of the 7 hours, I was emotionally exhausted, but I loved it. Purely for selfish reasons, it was wonderful to see enthusiasm for my work. Let's be honest, artists have a tendency to(at least I do) be self-centered and swing from total euphoria to utter despair. Making discoveries, following your muse is all great, but the isolation and lack of traditional guidelines for success (like buckets full of money) is an emotional rollercoaster.
Over and over people asked me about my work. I hadn't prepared for this but bit by bit I talked about what I was doing and eventually the parts of my story wove together into a legitimate progression. My story pulls together my earliest influences (my dad) to my education and passion (art history) to my special way of seeing things (photoshop, collage) and concludes with the announcement that I am going to start offering workshops for kids of all ages, starting Sat. January 12th at 2pm. It is going to be 2 hours of engaging in the artistic process and you can sign up here: http://foundartmosaicworkshop.eventbrite.com
My dad worked at Raytheon and Mitre for over 40 years, but I never before had I opened up a piece of electronics until last month!!!! Electronics are all around us, we use them every day and they get thrown out every other day. But not until I joined the Artisan's Asylum did I actually crack one open to see all the goodies inside. Like opening up a lobster, you wedge that screwdriver in there and pry it open with a crack. Many of the components are snapped in. Finding the tiny mechanism and popping it open is like solving a puzzle.
I studied art history at SUNY Purchase (alma mater of such greats as Stanley Tucci, Wesley Snipes and Regina Spektor), The American College in Paris and have a Masters in Art Ed from Mass Art. I've done arts administration for over 20 years and have worked at most of the cultural organizations in Boston. After being laid off from HSPH I enrolled in a class "The Artist’s Way" (Julia Cameron's book) taught by Kim Weeks. I discovered a not very quiet voice inside me that said, "Do it! Make art with all that "junk" you've been collecting and inherited from Dad!"
I have been taking photographs and altering them with Photoshop for years. More or less making virtual collage by changing colors and altering composition. My recent obsession with scouring the internet has renewed my love for Bauhaus and modernism and I am inspired by a long tradition of collage and found art assemblage. See: Kurt Scwhitters, Joseph Cornell, Nam Jun Paik.
I began to incorporate images from art history, along with advertising, maps and other printed matter and stuff I had accumulated over time and turned them into 3 dimensional assemblages. I prefer to call them mosaics, because its less intimidating than the word assemblage which literally means to assemble. I became hooked on the magical element of chance, luck, uncertainty in arranging accumulated, amassed, discarded, waste. The patterns I see in my collections are random and varied like the beauty found in nature. I become inspired by the colors and patterns in the papers, then create a background upon which to build with the 3 dimensional objects.
Cannibalizing computers, breaking them down to the smallest parts takes time. It's one of those slow, monotonous, meditative activities when your hands are busy so your brain can flow freely. When something catches my eye, I put it aside. There is an interaction between the 2 and 3 dimensional object in my work. I create a conversation between the objects in a way that they entertain the eye, is dynamic and invites an inquisitive experience.
Many of the objects I use have a story or a memory linked to them, which gives them many levels of meaning. Perhaps working with things from my past, was heightened my sensitivity to the beauty in the treasures found inside the computer. By touching the objects, exploring what they are made of, their varied shapes and colors; by identifying and categorizing visual qualities such as, sharp and curved lines, hard and pliable materials is a purely abstract aesthetic.
Because I had to pull together my story in a way that made sense to others, I have actually encouraged and given myself renewed energy. Having a good story legitimizes what I am doing and relieves some of the guilt of not having a real job right now while I give myself a change to make it as an artist - because that is all I ever wanted.