Friday, April 3, 2009

Art Workshop

Untitled (work in progress?)
Ellen Sereda

I had the privilege of taking an assemblage workshop this past weekend given by artist Michael de Meng. I would love to show you pictures, but in my worry to make it there on time I forgot my camera at home. Thinking I would arrive early, I ended up late. My sense of direction is freakishly bad. I'm like a homing pigeon whose been given Timothy Leary doses of LSD. I start out with good intentions but somewhere along the way the journey gets wildly confusing.

I am glad I wasn't too late because it was one of the best workshops I've ever taken. We transformed ordinary, in some cases extraordinary, boxes, containers and found objects into strange and compelling works of art. Michael has a great spirit and I learned a lot. Not the least, I faced my fear of power tools. In truth, I didn't actually use any. After improperly locking a cutting tool on a dremel and have it fly off a few feet, I got an itty bit nervous and asked someone to kindly cut something for me. Okay, I'm a wimp, but now I see the amazing options in using these tools and I'm psyched to try again. I may even go off and spend a few hours just slicing up cutlery for the heck of it.

My piece above was meant to hold the ceramic figurine I made a few years ago. When I came home, I scrounged around my house for more things to add to this assemblage and the ceramic piece has now just become part of the narrative. I'm a pushover for narrative. Not narrative that is obvious or definite, but ambiguous, mysterious and layered. That's why I was taken by Michael de Meng's work when I first came across it several months ago. His transformations of objects into a strange new reality are mesmerizing. Bits and pieces of junk and often some interesting obscure paraphernalia are made into a haunting, cohesive whole. When you examine them closely you notice more details emerging from murky depths of oily and rusty paint finishes. Far more articulate reading about his work can be found here. He is also the author of Secrets of Rusty Things: Transforming Found Objects into Art.

Also check out his blog for the video of his recent trip to the Dead Doll Island in Mexico. Bizarre. We're planning a Mexican trip soon, I'm disappointed we'll be nowhere near this place, although my daughters are more than relieved.

Here's a few examples of de Meng's work:





andrea said...

I am so impressed. I wish I'd taken the workshop with you now. I even have my own Dremel.

self taught artist said...

i can't believe my eyes, your work looks just as good and fits in with the photos of cool for you to find a new way to work! have you ever done anything like this before?

Caroline said...

Wow - stunning work Ellen - and funny about the power tools... I can use them but not for putting up shelves ;-)

Thanks for the links - yet another blog to read...

Angela Wales Rockett said...

Very, very cool, Ellen!

dinahmow said...

Why is it that the "junk" our parents were forever telling us to clear up and put in the trash has become a money-spinner for artists? Were we artists then, only to have our corners filed down at school? Am I now in my second childhood? (And an answer is not obligatory ;-) )

Ellen said...

Andrea: You should have! And you would have known how to get there, it was in Twassen (I ended up in Whiterock).

Paula: Thanks, and no, assemblage is pretty new to me, bit out of my comfort zone. I don`t think I`ll be doing any more pieces like the one I did for the class. But I had a lot of lightbulb moments in how I may want to combine representational painting and some of the techniques I learned in class.

Caroline: His blog is eye candy for the arm chair traveller. He just did a workshop in Bali. Would have loved to have gone THERE for a workshop!

Angela: thanks, you came to mind also when I wrote about narrative being mysterious and layered. Love your work.

Dinah: Second childhood, I`m still on my first.

Tracy said...

Love this piece you did Ellen! What is its size?

I am envious, I love assemblage art but it has never been something i could do, much to my great disappointment....

Melody said...

I never thought that type of work would appeal to me but looking at the examples that you posted has made me think otherwise. So interesting.... really like it.

Athena said...

Your piece is beautiful! I'm especially drawn to the doll and the insect. Very well done-- you should be so proud of yourself! :)

Anonymous said...

My teenage daughter said your piece reminds her of a night at the opera.

Ellen said...

Tracy: Thanks, it's probably around 16" high. Assemblage isn't something I do either, just drawn to lately.

In University we had to do one. I took a big corkscrew, mounted it on a cardboard box, spray painted it silver and thought it looked cool. Professor took one looked and said, "NO. This is NOTHING", OUCH (although now I see her point).

Melody: Not to everyone's taste, maybe a bit dark for some, but I think it's interesting too.

Athena: Thanks, I'm especially glad I finally found a use for the 25 cent beetle paperweight I picked up at a garage sale 20 years ago.

Veronica: theatrical, I like that.