By Neverne Covington
Re-Thinking Assemblage Sculpture
Defined: Composing a work of art with objects not normally associated with each other, to create a visual re-mix, a coherent composite image. Assemblage is sometime thought of as a sub-category of sculpture.
I have often thought of assemblage as a twentieth century art form but it has an ancestor which pre-dates it. When I began making my first assemblages, I was unaware my work stood upon a long-standing tradition dating back to the Renaissance. In the late 1500s, Curiosity Cabinets were popular among the upper class. In 1587, revered art advisor Gabriel Kaltemarckt wrote to Christian I at Dresden suggesting what they should contain: “ they should include curious items from home or abroad and antlers, horns, claws, feathers… belonging to strange and curious animals.” These collections became the symbols of intellectual and cultural distinction.
What draws me to assemblage is the desire to make something whole, to make sense of the physical world, of which I am insatiably curious. Sometimes I will see an object and feel like it calls out to me. I know that someday I will make art with it. (right now its goat horns and glass stoppers) Friends give me things like old rusted ceiling tin tiles or Victorian gloves saying, “ I know you will do something with these.” And I do. On occasion I scour scrap yards collecting ideas and crushed copper buckets, choosing a material for its ability to communicate in the context of the work. What I love about this search is It is like traveling without a map.
Pictured here in images 1-5 I have used: leather, chinchilla paws, copper, electrical components, velvet, silicone, seed pods, bird quills, and fur. These elements have been stuffed, sewn, cut, wired, woven, fused and together.
In the sculpture titled “Tendrils” the Brevard Museum of Art sent artists a Chinese take-out food container box. They asked them to recreate it within the confines of 15 x 15 inches. I kept my container intact, glueing leather on both sides. Then I sewed stuffed cylinders of leather and extended from the tips of these either large bird quills or carved coconut shells. Each work in the exhibition began as a Chinese takeout food container and ended up as a wild work of art.