The Art of Assemblage


Assemblage is the perfect art medium if you’re a collector like me.  A collector of what, you ask?  Odds and ends.  Quirky bits and pieces.  Vintage photos and doodads.  Assemblage is a fantastic way to use some of these found objects I’ve squirreled away.

For those of you who may not be very familiar with assemblage, it’s defined by Wikipedia this way: Assemblage is an artistic process. In the visual arts, it consists of making three-dimensional or two-dimensional artistic compositions by putting together found objects.

Some assemblage artists of note include Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Cornell, and my late friend, Janice Lowry.  Janice was an incredibly talented assemblage artist, and it was a treat to see her work in person at her different art shows over the years. I was able to purchase one of her simpler pieces around ten years ago, and am so glad I did!  It’s a wonderful piece featuring a crow (below), and is a lovely reminder of Janice.


Two New Assemblages!

I recently completed two new assemblage pieces, one centered around horses and the other based on an image of a baby girl (shown at top of post).  Here are some photos of these two new pieces…

Equestrian: 6″ x 16″ x 1″ – mixed media assemblage





Sugar & Spice: 13″ x 8″ x 2″ – mixed media assemblage





Sources of My Materials

I love that each of these pieces contains elements gathered from many different places on many different days.  Here is a brief run down of the places where a sampling of my creative elements came from:

Smaller wooden box (baby assemblage): junk store near Lake Isabella, CA
Rectangular wooden box (horses assemblage): an estate sale in Cambria, CA
Horse show ribbon (dated 1936): an antique store near Julian, CA
Horse shoe nails: metal junk store in Missouri
Photos: antique stores, flea markets and eBay
Baby food spoon: estate sale in Orange, CA
Baby shoes: CA antique store

As you can see, they came from many different places and were purchased over several years.  I didn’t know quite how the materials would be used, but they caught my eye for some reason, and I knew I wanted to add them to my stash of supplies.  I love how all the individual pieces came together to form these two wholes.

Balance in Assemblage Composition

I strive for balance when I create my assemblages, and here’s what I mean by that:

  •  I include enough items to properly fill out the boxes, but not so many that my composition is chaotic and overly cluttered.
  •  I use a bit of color with the black and white/sepia that vintage items often have.  Some color, but not too much that the eye gets no rest.
  •  I use a variety of textures, so there’s visual interest, but make sure these textures fall into the color scheme and into a few major types/groups – so they’re not overpowering.  For example, in the horse assemblage I use metal, paper (including the photos), and fabric/ribbon – in addition to the wood of the box.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these two new pieces of art, and found the overview of my collection and composition habits interesting.  Have you ever created an assemblage?  Do you have a favorite assemblage artist?  Do tell!

Warm regards,

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  1. Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:47 am by Jo Murray | Permalink

    Your assemblages are great Melody. Do you make the boxes also?

  2. Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you! No, at this point I’m using boxes that I’ve found various places. Those two were from a junk shop and an estate sale. :]