Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nichos and Beyond

Every year as a kid we went to Mexico. My father, who requires only four hours of sleep at night drove. Some of my earliest memories are trying to sleep in the back of car with lights flickering from above and the constant sensation of movement. My father was so compulsive about his driving that we would often skip meals and hotels so that we could "get there". That would usually be in about three days. We would cross the Texas border into Mexico, and then everything seemed to change. It was party time! A festival of colors and lights and noise and people. Being the only blond haired blue-eyed kid for miles around, I remember sitting in a crowd of  dark haired women stroking my curls and smiling sweetly. To say I was in love was putting it mildly. I especially liked the melted plastic Christmas decorations they had everywhere that resembled popcorn. The bright colors and texture really appealed to a 6 year old. The smell of cooked tortillas was always in the air as well as the not so pleasant smell of the sulfur they used instead of chlorine in the swimming pools during summer. My brother and I ran screaming " It smells like rotten eggs! Maman, it smells like rotten eggs!!".

I guess the biggest treat for me was to see all of the folk art being done and going to market with my mother. Each area of Mexico has its art specialty. Guadalajara's specialty was pottery.
I never realized how my early childhood travels influenced my art. Being a picture framer I am fascinated by shadow boxes, or any box that can contain art in general. The assemblages of Joseph Cornell intrigue me , particularly. His boxes are like visual poetry for me.
Which brings me to the subject of nichos. For a long time I didn't know what the difference was between a nicho vs a retablo. Nichos are smaller and built in a shadow box type container.  I adapted my nichos style art in the form of a sardine can. I've made hundreds of these over the years, but now I want to venture out and do something a little larger.
 A popular image of purgatory in Mexican folklore is that of the "anima sola" , the lonely soul . I've done a few adaptations on this theme.
cutting and embossing sheet copper is easy. Small sharp scissors can be used.
There's also an element of humor in my art that comes out in the messages. Something that can't be helped!
In my arsenal of supplies, I make sure to have plenty of bottle caps, glitter, beads, lotteria cards, and trinkets on hand. They appeal to my sense of collecting things and somehow making order of them.
Everywhere I go I see assemblages, I cannot help it. It 's an endless fascination for me.
 An assemblage is a process by which found objects are arranged to form an artistic composition. This is with or without the box. I prefer the box.  I think this stems from my desire to be shielded or protected. Not something I felt as a child growing up.

Sometimes the assemblages are not religious in nature but spiritual.
The tattered card of Jesus was found literally in the street. I think it was one of those cheesy car air fresheners. Can you imagine Jesus, the Lord of all Lords helping to freshen your vehicle??? Please! Anyway, I like the idea of elevating what we normally throw out to the realm of art. You don't need money to be creative.

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