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ART BITES: What Feeds Your Creativity?

Life: A Pandora's Box Linda Lowery Encaustic and mixed media
Life: A Pandora’s Box, Linda Lowery, Encaustic and mixed media

In the new blog series Art Bites, we serve up an artwork in our monthly exhibit that makes us hungry to learn more. This month, we highlight Linda Lowery, an artist who thinks outside of the box, while her artwork is, literally, inside of the box. You can find Lowery’s assemblage Life: A Pandora’s Box in the September Open Exhibit on view until October 7 at The Art League gallery.

Assemblage is a collage technique in which artists combine, group, and juxtapose objects not originally intended as art materials, often for their symbolic value. As a multimedia artist, Lowery enjoys assemblage for its interactive potential.

“I think it’s fun for a viewer to identify the various objects, and then see what the whole piece represents both visually and symbolically,” She says of her work.

Lowery’s mixed-media construction is an eerie composition of curios. Housed inside a wooden box, Lowery’s encaustic painting of a wailing baby is accompanied by a peculiar collection of found objects. These miniature oddities, ranging from a stack of pennies to a plastic human skull, represent money, death, addiction, misfortune, and the innocence of childhood. A dollop of molten wax has abstracted each trinket, shrouding them in translucent jackets of brown-tinted encaustic. According to Lowery, the wax drippings were used to unite the objects visually, tone down their colors, and add an air of concealment.

“[The wax] makes them more indistinct because the future is uncertain,” she remarked.

Lowery’s assemblage is uncomfortable to view, yet beautiful—an effective, jarring memento mori that spins a surreal narrative of the “pitfalls of life.” Feelings of unease or discomfort are heightened by Lowery’s adjacent arrangement of the crying baby’s face with the wax covered skull. Such discordant juxtapositions are a hallmark of many assemblage artists.

Untitled (The Hotel Eden) Joseph Cornell C. 1945 mixed media
Untitled (The Hotel Eden), Joseph Cornell, C. 1945, mixed media

While Lowery has worked in encaustic for many years, experimenting with assemblage is new territory for Lowery. “I do admire the work of Joseph Cornell,” Lowery noted while discussing her inspiration. A master of assembled art, American artist Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) often created box sculptures (or “constructions”) that merged painting and 3-dimensional objects that intrigue Lowery. Readers may be familiar with Cornell’s bemusing Untitled (The Hotel Eden) (c.1945) for its flashy tri-colored parrot.

The advent of collage—assemblage too—has allowed artists to push the boundaries of authorship, challenge the meaning of appropriation, and experiment with conceptual concepts. Lowery is enthusiastic about the mingling of assemblage and modern encaustic art.

“It seems like a lot of contemporary encaustic work incorporates found or made objects which are covered in wax,” She remarked. “This is a new direction for my art.”

Lowry’s piece and the September Open Exhibit is on view in the Art League Gallery now through October 7. Remember: The Art League Gallery is open late on Thursdays until 9 pm! 

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For this installment of “Art Bites,” we look into the diptych of America Remembers/The Lives by Hernán Murno in the July open exhibit. Murno’s strong, graphic lines are reminiscent of early American Abstraction art of the 1940s. American Abstractionist work rose from a time of political unrest in response to WWII, and looking at Murno’s piece, you have the feeling that the aesthetic choice was not only inspired by the abstract movement but also reflective of today’s unique political tensions.

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