Found Art

Art of Rubbish video recap

Working at the "Rubbish" event.      To see something of the Art of Rubbish event on video, scroll to  22:10 in Aurora's News Weekly... the segment includes interview moments featuring me,janiceinterviewartists Brenda Stumpf and Lily Erb, Art in Public Places coordinator Mary Koernig, and a cameo from Ken Elliott. I think I said more interesting things in the course of my five minute interview but here's what remained after editing!It was a really fun day and great to have it captured on video and promoted by the city. Hopefully there will be a repeat performance next year with more artists involved and an even larger community turnout. 

"Rubbish" report... collage demo

Small collage compositions used during my demonstrations.                      The "Art of Rubbish" was planned as an outdoor event but, due to recent flooding in Colorado and high water in Aurora's City Center Park, it was moved into the adjacent library's community room. Art in Public Places provided the set-up (grid walls, easels, tables) which was great -- I've never shown in a festival-type format and don't own the gear associated with outdoor art exhibitions.My exhibition and demo areaTraffic might've been stronger had we been outside, but the people who did seek us out seemed genuinely interested in the art and how all three participating artists were re-using found materials. Along with the artists' displays, there was a large work area filled with materials for people to experiment with.Meanwhile, I was able to demonstrate the wet working technique that I use most often in my collage-making. I had several 5 x 7" wood panels coated with black gesso that I was using to make small collage compositions. In the photo it's easy to see, by the streaks, where I have painted the matte medium that I use as my glue. By the time these are completed, all the black areas will be coated with a matte finish and look the same. As I worked, I kept thinking about how challenging it would have been to demonstrate outside... my little scraps would've been tossed about like confetti! (If I ever do outdoor demos, I'll need to think through how to incorporate lots of paperweights into my table setup or block the breeze in some manner.)It was a fun day -- thanks to all who came by -- and to the Aurora Art in Public Places commission who were so incredibly helpful and kindly provided stipends to the artists. I really enjoyed discussing my work and the larger issues of re-use and recycling with everyone. Hopefully this will be the first of many such events.

Found collage art

Foundart10.12-1Here's a photo of a wild "found collage," remnants of papers on a telephone pole, taken on Alberta Street, a burgeoning arts district in Portland, Oregon last week.I'm fascinated with discards, debris, and paper scraps of all kinds — and especially love finding unexpected graphic compositions in urban and outdoor environments.To see another elegant found collage, click here.

El Anatsui: inspiration and exhibition in Denver

El-anatsui-detailI've been inspired by El Anatsui since I first glimpsed his huge recycled tapestry-like work at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2008... I even wrote a blog post about it way back then!

So I've been looking forward to his retrospective show at the Denver Art Museum, "When I Last Wrote to You about Africa."

He gave a talk, more like an interview, in advance of the opening last week, as part of the Logan Lecture series. I was particularly interested in his discussion of using humble elements, brought together in a monumental way, to create a meaningful work of art. Beauty, he feels, is just a by-product of his work. (Detail of one of the works on view in Denver at left)

He said working with what your environment produces has always been a guiding thought in his artistic practice. As a collagist, I could totally relate to his sensibilities. 

In working with found objects, he acknowledges that the media comes with its own history/meaning. He believes that because the objects have been touched by a person, there is a "psychic charge" within the artwork that ultimately helps other people relate to the piece.

He also spoke about the flexibility of the hanging pieces and the importance of involving other people in his work to determine how they should be hung/placed -- so it is different in every installation. He said art is like a reflection of life, always in a state of flux, and he embraces that philosophy throughout his practice.

El-anatsui-janice-mcdonaldWhen I arrived at the exhibition on Saturday, I was surprised that he was in the galleries responding to questions about the work. It was great to meet him and be able to tell him how much I've enjoyed his work. What a creative spirit and what a wonderful exhibition.

It runs through December 30th, 2012. Be sure to visit if you are in the area. I know I'll be going back a few times in an attempt to take it all in! (Even the shadows the works cast on the walls are gorgeous.) 

Here's some video that gives you the sense of being in the same space with these wall hangings. It is not from the Denver show but was the best footage I could find to show the details of his work, from a recent show at the Akron Art Museum. Enjoy!