Friday, November 11, 2011

Fine Art Fridays #3: Assemblages

During my first year at Emerson College (back when I thought I’d make my fame and fortune as an actor), I had to take a painting class with Boston-area scenic artist & designer Tim Jozwick to fulfill my stage-craft requirements. I’d never had any particularly strong interest in art or design up until that point, but that scenic painting class with Tim completely changed the course of my college career and ultimately changed my life. It was because of that class that I decided to take every Tim Jozwick course I could possibly fit into my schedule before graduating—and thus, my concentration as a Scenic and Props Designer came to be. It all just fell into place, and I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s because of my lessons with Tim and with my Props mentor Ron DeMarco that I am both able and inspired to make the art that I make.

 I came across this picture the other day somewhere on my hard drive, and was reminded of a lesson Tim gave us in taking a simple string of words and turning it into a fully realized work of art. Tim had just introduced the class to some animations by the Brothers Quay, who do these incredibly intricate, dark, eerie animations involving the use of many small household items for their characters and set-pieces. In this assignment, Tim asked us to create an assemblage (similar in style to the work of the Brothers Quay) that personifies a given sentence. The sentence he gave me was “I look damn good in a hat,” and I decided to create a self-portrait of sorts (below). I was really happy with it, though I couldn’t really find a container that I liked. I ended up carrying her around for a day in a big pink suitcase, and then when I took her home she sat on my bookshelf like a traditional bust.

"Little Joa," as I like to call her, is made out of an assortment of items. I chose to use an antique clock as the base because the ticking would be similar to a beating heart. I attached a hanger so that she'd have shoulders to wrap in a big, cozy Cosby sweater--which is decorated with a button of the 'Cos himself, as well as a Glinda the Good Witch button that says, "It's nice to see me, isn't it?". On the opposite shoulder is a little bird figurine, which reminds me a bit of Disney princesses and their animal helpers. Little Joa's head is made of roses and computer chips--I think that my intention there (this was a couple years ago so I'm rusty) was that my brain is constant conflict with itself, torn between following my emotions or my logic/reason. She has a little Hawaiian umbrella for a mouth, because I'm a social creature who's extroverted and likes a good party. Her hair is made out of an old audio tape of "The Police," which I think I was really into at the time? She also has little glasses, plastic rimmed like mine. And of course, the bowler hat. It seems a little out of place because it is--the truth of the matter is, I do NOT look damn good in a hat. I look pretty ridiculous, so I wanted to pick a hat that was a little ridiculous.

 Ron does a similar assignment for his classes, asking students to create an every-day object by using more, smaller, un-related ever-day items—though the creations in Ron’s class are much less terrifying than anything made by the Brothers Quay. They’re a bit more like the assemblage above. I would love to continue to work in this medium, however time-consuming it may be. I think this work speaks to both the painter and the props master in me, because it allows me to create something brand new out of something old, something that tells a story in three dimensions--and, it gives me an excuse to keep all of the old weird crap I've collected over the years. So long as I don't end up on Hoarders, I think it'd be great.

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