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Building 3-D Collages with David Alfuth


Architecture with Perspective #11 by David Alfuth. Winner of The Art League Award. (click for a larger image)
Architecture with Perspective #11 by David Alfuth. Winner of The Art League Award. (click for a larger image)

The tools of the trade are a sharp knife, adhesive, and a photocopier.

But of course, there’s much more to it than that. David Alfuth’s 3-D collages started years ago as a project for his eighth-grade art students, and since he got hooked, they’ve been branching in different directions.

After his piece Architecture with Perspective #11 won an award in this month’s Open Exhibit, we asked the artist a few questions for a Q&A. He told us about the origins of his collages and why his process isn’t too different from a painter’s:

What’s your creative process like, from an idea to a finished piece?
David Alfuth: My creative process is much like any other artist’s. I start with an idea, and I collect images that I think will help me with the piece. Now, as I start to put the pieces together, some work and some do not.

I change images, make some smaller and some larger to achieve the idea I am trying to get. I will take images out and add new ones that I feel give the piece a better look. 95 percent of the time, what I thought it would look like is nothing like what I end up with. I was a painter in my early days, and I find the process is about the same. You start out with an idea and change as you need to achieve your goal.

Architecture with Perspective #11 (detail)
Architecture with Perspective #11 (detail)

What are some examples of places you get your source material?
All my images come from books that I get from Dover Publications. I have to be very careful to have images that can be reproduced without any copyright infringement. Dover Publications offers me this ability. I have even had several of my works published in their catalog as examples of what you can do with their publications. I think I have just about every architectural book they publish.

How are these architecture pieces different from your botanical and narrative pieces?
I have to tell you that my art work started as a lesson for my eighth graders when I taught art. I needed a lesson to teach surrealism, and came up with the idea of using the images to create their project.

I started making examples for my students and found I was getting hooked. I, however, took it to the 3-D level. I started off with the 3-D relief narrative ideas because that is what my students were working on. Then I wanted to try and to create some free-standing sculptures, so I created the botanical series. I also have a cubist series that contain both relief and free standing work.

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, What Happened To Your Garden? by David Alfuth (click for a larger image)
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, What Happened To Your Garden? by David Alfuth (click for a larger image)

I started on the architectural series because I liked the use of perspective as a element of surprise. It allowed me not only to create a 3-D piece but to give that magical element of depth. I want my viewers to look a little surprised after looking at one of my pieces.

Where does this fit in the Architecture with Perspective series?
The Architecture with Perspective series has changed in many different directions. The series started with very simple elements of architecture using perspective. I have also created free-standing sculptures by combining a series of stair cases. They are all named What Goes Up Must Come Down. These works did not employ as much perspective work as the first series. I am now creating new pieces that combine more unusual and different perspective view, and they are very ornate in decoration. This is my Ceiling series.

From David Alfuth's July 2014 exhibit at The Art League, “The Adventure”
From David Alfuth’s July 2014 exhibit at The Art League, “The Adventure”

What are you working on now?
I am now starting out a new venture where my pieces are in small cabinets. They still employ all the elements of architecture and perspective; however, when you open the doors to the cabinet, you find a small surprise! I am still working out the details on this new series. I am hoping to combine the architecture and the narrative elements of my first series. So we shall see where this idea goes.

The December Open Exhibit is open through January 4.

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