Anyone who is familiar with my body of work for the past eight or so years would be scratching their head trying to figure out what I’m up to nowadays. How did I go from abstract landscapes to mixed media shadowbox sculptures? From dreamy two-dimensional encaustic and oils to dramatically lit interiors reminiscent of 18th century theater sets? What led me to exchange a hot palette of molten wax for an old collection of found wood, glass, metal and paper materials?
About a year ago I was designing a unit for my Art II high school students based on shadowbox assemblages. I began with Joseph Cornell and before I knew it I had discovered the centuries old tradition of miniatures. I was captivated by room boxes, dioramas, 19th century toy theaters, cabinets of curiosities, paper peep shows and Dutch perspective boxes. Somewhere between these influences my shadowboxes emerged.
Each box is custom-made from new, found and salvaged materials. I assemble most components and props from scratch using materials that would have been used for centuries, i.e. glass, wood, metal, paper, ceramic. In keeping with the time-worn decay of each work I age these materials with various paints, glazes and other treatments.
If you look closely you might see an antique drawer pull serving as a window cornice. Vintage jewelry findings might now grace a tiny glass vessel sitting on a shelf. Discarded pocket watch parts corroded with age occupy pride of place as mysterious scientific instruments. Ancient stacks of tiny books, maps and folios are painstakingly assembled using pages from old books and other ephemera. Electric and battery operated lights breathe life, drama and magic into each fantastic little world.
Having enough materials on hand to create this type of work requires me to be continually scrounging thrift stores, flea markets and antique malls for materials. It’s been great fun. I have a sketchbook filled with ideas for new shadowboxes to be constructed in the coming year.
In the meantime, if you’d like to see the ones shown here in person be sure to stop by Lakewood Art Studios this February for the upcoming Doors of Opportunity Exhibition. I’ll be joined by local artists Linda Zolten Wood, Matt Larsen, Allen Van Houten, Thomas Masaveg, Amelia Joynes, Kathryn Akucewich and Lucinda Weller. The opening reception will be Saturday, February 8 from 3-5 pm. There will also be a closing reception Saturday, February 29. Looking forward to seeing you.
Lakewood Art Studios
18115 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107