Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Abstraction of a Photograph

Free Reelin', mixed media, 12" x 36"

At the Roundtable last night, for the show called "You, Me, Us and Them: Contemporary Art Portraits", Juror, Irene Belknap, was present and talked about what she looks for in artwork. Her first and foremost interest is in how an artist comes from the gut and grabs the viewer emotionally. She also values a quote from a forgotten source who says that art is best when it comes from that place that says, "It's not me. It's not me. It comes from the wind that blows through me." I was delighted to meet a "kindred spirit" who thinks about art the way I do. Further, I thought about this quote and how a photograph is transformed into an abstract rendition of a 3D representation, as seen in my first "assemblage" art work called "Free Reelin'".

Last Friday morning, when I woke up and "saw" the audio cassette tapes I've been collecting for a year as potential material for a self portrait, I had no idea what the final piece would look like. Other than painting a "realistic" pallet of colors on the cassette tape housing and breaking it up into pieces, I had no idea how all of the tiny internal parts that make up a cassette tape would fit together. But, the magic of how structure and form of materials influences the final project is the joy of assemblage. From the beginning of breaking the tapes with the hammer, I noticed that the shapes resulting from the "random" breaks lent themselves to looking like the lines and curves of a face. The various plastic shards and some Elmer's glue emerged into a "necklace" and joined a pair of "ear rings", made from the colorful tape leader, and the wheel that holds the tape. After the main "face" was laid out onto the acrylic painted board, I realized that the scale of the various crocheted and knitted audio cassette tape was perfect for fashioning a "summer dress" and "hat". The "seahorse" piece I sculpted as part of the opera project, "A Sea Odyssey: 2012", is the kindred spirit that forms a "hat" and now lives in the upper right hand corner of the piece. As "Free Reelin'" continued to leap from the board, bits of metal inside the audio cassette tape became the perfect "eye lashes" and highlights in my self portrait's "eyes". Finally, the tape itself served as "hair" and "seaweed", and was attached under the hat.

Now, assemblage has grabbed me in a powerful way and will be the basis of three more pieces, created for the upcoming Faces of the Wild art auction and benefit.

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