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Surreal Times/Surreal Art

My last blog post was February 1, 2020 and it seems an entire lifetime ago. Little did I know that six weeks later everything in our state, including school, would be shut down due to the pandemic and I would be teaching my 4th quarter middle school and high school art students online. Those early surreal days of lockdown left me a little unbalanced and I was too unfocused to create anything at all. I’ve since found my feet and been working with renewed energy on my theater box assemblages over the spring and summer months.

"The Scholar of Delft"

I completed my largest (42” x 15” x 10”) theater box to date, “The Scholar of Delft”. This is an homage to 17th century Dutch painter Jan Vermeer. His paintings are exquisite and I knew I would someday create a theater box inspired by his work. I imagined what a stage set might look like for a play about a 17th century Dutch scientist and explorer. I used two of Vermeer’s paintings, “The Geographer” and “The Astronomer” as reference.

The main room, flooded with daylight coming from the tall window, contains a globe, maps, books, and other objects representing scientific inquiry. A second story balcony with an ornately carved door looks down over the scene. The stairway leads to an upper loft outfitted with a chemistry worktable, manuscripts, storage trunks and a telescope to gaze at the stars from the upper story window. There is a main electrical light source plus battery operated LEDs used for the footlights and flickering lantern in the loft. All components have been built from found objects such as reclaimed wood, glass, metal, jewelry findings, paper, fabric, shells and pottery. Surface treatments include acrylic paints, watercolors, inks, stains, and glazes. A selection of turned wood and acrylic vessels has been created by my husband, Mark Mayer. Spending hundreds of hours working on this piece has been a refuge for me during the pandemic.

"Library Scene"

I’ve just finished “Library Scene", my newest theater box assemblage (17" x 16" x 5.5”). I imagine this stage set for a scene in a play or opera with the main character about to walk on. Most components, including the intricately carved front panel and the main architectural elements, have been made from reclaimed and recycled vintage materials such as discarded picture frames and old barn wood. Materials used include wood, glass, metal, jewelry findings, paper, shells and fabric. There are three separate light features using both electric and battery operated LEDs.

So what’s next? I’ve got three reclaimed clock cases ready to house new theater sets. A pile of reclaimed barn wood sits in my studio, waiting to be put to use. Some rusty old ceiling tin…a salvaged violin…oh the places I’ll go! Stay safe and be well!

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