Lesson 1: Finding Your Voice Through Found Materials.

I use found materials a lot in my own work. I like to be resourceful and sustainable in my practice and so I naturally gravitate towards what is around me. I think that using found materials is:

1) Smart: Being resourceful is doesn't cost me a lot of money. 

2) Emotionally Intelligent: It stretches those muscles of my mind that encourages me to find the beauty in what is around me. 

3) Connecting: It grounds me to myself, my space, and my materials. It connects me to my impact and my relationship with the earth. 

Through the act of creating with FOUND MATERIALS I meditate and expand upon the above principles. It feels good, necessary, and important - especially in these times when our waste and material impact is pertinent to the future of the environment.

 Artist El Anatsui creates gorgeous wall hanging sculptures with recycled liquor bottle tops.

Artist El Anatsui creates gorgeous wall hanging sculptures with recycled liquor bottle tops.

Found Material Assemblage Exercise: 

What is Assemblage? : It is an art form wherein an artist puts together different found materials into a sculptural form. Picasso began such constructions in the early 1900's and artists such as Kurt Schwitters and Mario Merz followed suit. In the 1950s Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg popularized the form using found materials and adding paint to them. 

 Collection. Robert Rauschenberg. 1954/1955. Paper, Wood, Fabric, Metal and Oil on Canvas.

Collection. Robert Rauschenberg. 1954/1955. Paper, Wood, Fabric, Metal and Oil on Canvas.

Step 1: Begin by looking. Look around your home, look on the streets around you as you walk, and begin to notice more. What are you attracted to? What is readily available? What could be useful or interesting in a sculpture? // This is an important part of the artists journey - you will begin to notice your surroundings in a new way and open up to seeing. Once you notice new aspects of your everyday life you might find that you become more engaged, interested, curious and connected to what is existing in your life.

Step 2: Gather your materials. Try to have at least five things and a diverse bunch. It's always bette to have more and pare down later. Spread these out on your table. Gather your connecting materials (glue, tape, staples, extra paper, cardboard, etc.).

Step 3: Make Notes. Take out a pen and paper and begin by jotting down the materials you've connected. Then next to each material attribute an emotion, idea, or other relational aspect of the material. In other words, what does that material bring up for you?

Example: Cardboard: Amazon, Shopping, Consumerism, Trees, Process, Nature, Box. 

Step 4: Make Connections. Now that you have your list and attributes you may start to see a trend  in your associative words. Is a story emerging? If not, look for one. Think about the story you want to tell and how you will use the materials to tell it. At this point you may realize you need to cut some found objects out and/or collect more of one or find one more specific material. Do that. Write down the story you're interested in telling through these materials. One material might drive the story and the others play minor symbolic roles or simply serve for aesthetics only. 

Step 5: Design. Sketch it out. Make notes and draw the materials and how they will connect. Use arrows, write down your associative words, scratch them out, go for it. This is your time to figure out your blueprint. Use as many pieces of paper as necessary. 

THINK ABOUT: Repetition, Size, Space, Shape, Movement...putting multiples of one material in your assemblage could express excess, placing a material in a circle might have a connotation of unity, having a meandering string rather than a cut up string has a different emotional effect...

Step 6: Put it all together! Glue, cut, staple, combine...put your materials together to create your assemblage. If you deviate from the blueprint that is all good. A lot of art making is discovery through the process. Have fun, experiment, let things fall and then try again. Make sure your piece is interesting from all angles. Work on one side then turn it around and work on the other. It's not done until you say it's done. 

Step 7: Give it a title. Give it somewhere to live. Take pictures. Share them with me, with your friends. And give yourself a pat on the back. 

Congrats you made an Assemblage!