Kass Copeland!

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Kass Copeland makes her home in Chicago. She wears a few hats in the art world, including graphic design, logo design, and digital image works. But, here, let’s look at her amazing works in collage and assemblage.

I love Kass’s work. It surprises me that someone so involved in the more modern aspects of art and computers can create what appears to be timeless, traditional assemblage. She gives a nod to the past and incorporates her own strong interpretations to the medium. The simplicity of her works, the subdued color pallet, and rich imagery is so appealing.

John Messenger writes in “Artists in Chicago” of Kass:

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“While Cornell’s assemblages were often so specific to be coolly abstract in
their meanings, Copeland never fails to create an emotional resonance with her
viewer. Longing, loneliness, joy, sorrow, nostalgia, melancholy, wistfulness,
hopefulness all find their voice in her astounding body of work. Kass Copeland’s
color palette tends toward a restrained range of earth tones, subtle tints, gold
and silver, dark rich reds and ambers, and beautiful woods. But her emotional
palette is complex and complete, drawing the viewer immediately into her
cleverly devised constructions, then lingering far more in one’s memory, like a
wistful old song that keeps playing in your head, long after one has heard

kass 3Kass is a favorite assemblage artist on Pinterest, and rightly so!  You can find her works pinned on every assemblage board. You can find a lot of her inspiring works there, as well as in images for google and yahoo. She is an active member of the Chicago art scene, and I see she participates in open studio tours there. Someday, I’d like to get a peek in her studio…till then I’ll just have to wait and try to keep up on her over the web.


Bruce Connor

The brilliant body of assemblage work created by Bruce Conner has been of great influence to American Art. Bruce was known as a west-coast artist whose contemporaries include Jay DeFao, Wallace Berman, Wally Hedrik, Joan Brown and George Herms. He migrated to San Francisco in 1957 from Kansas where although, apparently his semi-isolated beginnings provided he and a few like-minded artists the opportunity to study and understand their forbears in the avant-garde art world. More so, than, say, other contemporaries who lived in the cities on the east coast, or metropolitan areas on the west coast.

When William Seitz traveled to San Francisco looking for artists for his ground breaking Assemblage Show, Conner helped show him around.

During the late 1950s  and early 60s Conner’s art exploded in the contemporary art world. It seems he was influenced by the “folk art” of magical discarded pieces, reminiscent of the Sutro Baths and Playland Amusement Park found around the Point Lobos and Cliff House area in San Francisco, where bygone objects of previous eras  lay abandoned and covered in dust and grime. Often his works are clothed in veils of semi-transparent nylon webbing, or globules of objects encased in this webbing may hang pendulously from the work.

Conner’s haunting representations evoke very visceral reactions. His work remains a milestone in contemporary American art. Bruce passed in 2008. Below, an all-too short video of a few of Conner’s works:


Have you ever wondered about those brightly colored plastic cups, tumblers, goblets, bowls and plates from your outdoor picnic/barbecue supplies, and what can become of them in their next life? You know, the ones that looked great for that birthday party, but really didn’t need a place on the shelf next to the china inherited from Grandma? And the guilt associated with purchasing those items that need to be tossed along with the plastic Iron Man mug you got from the fast food drive-through? But. hey, they are perfectly servicable….What could become of them if they were given a second life?

Enter Sayaka Ganz’s and Jim Merz’s Luminariales.

Sayaka and Jim have created a series of  computer controlled, rotating chandeliers lit with LED modules that bypass the term ‘reuse’  and kick it into the ‘objects des artes’ category:


Luminariales 2 in the Forest from Jim Merz on Vimeo.


Sayaka’s love for discarded objects is shown on her website: www.sayakaganz.com where you can view her incredible creations of animal sculptures made from “thrift store plastics.”

Jim Merz brings his expertise in kinetics sculpture to this collaboration of recycling and light and motion. You can find more of his works at: www.jmmerz.com

And Happy New Year…I continue to be floored by the ingenuity employed by artists who would give a second use to discarded objects in the pursuit of creative art, and its relevance in our present-day society, as well as the foundation work set by artists in the last century that paved our way to this point.-Susan


More Great Animation: Bonobo’s ‘Cirrus’ by Cyriak

So, I can’t stop watching this video. I ran across it on the ‘Colossal’ blog, my current favorite daily internet art fix. And I am enchanted by the use of animation and collage combined in a mind-blowing video for the group, ‘Bonobo.’ The animation is by a certain Cyriak, (yes, that’s his name, alright) who hales from the U.K. Cyriak is a freelance animator, graphic designer. Reusing mid-century photo images Cyriak has truly put together something I consider a more innovative art piece than the run -of-the-mill music video. Colossal is at: www.thisiscolossal.com and Cyriak can be found at: www.cyriak..co.uk  enjoy the clip!


Scott Weaver: A Man With Many Toothpicks!

Remember as a kid trying to glue toothpicks into something? It was a staple of Boy Scout and Girl Scout camps. Elementary teachers knew better than to turn us loose in the classroom with gluey fingers sticking to everything….but, most of us had a go at it when we were young.

So did Scott Weaver, evidently. But with Scott, it seems to have become an obsession. His sculpture ‘Rolling Through the Bay’ has been shown at San Francisco’s Exploratorium and Maker Faire, as well as earning accolades across the country. He started it in 1974 and I’m not sure he has quit working on it, yet.

By the way, Scott points out that if you want to glue two toothpicks together, do it on a flat surface, and prop it up for drying as needed. Avoid the sticky fingers….


Technique With Anaglypta Paper

Thought I’d share one of our new favorite recipes this week. I used this technique on the back of one of my new pieces so it would look finished, and Michael is using it on the inside of a box he is working on. I wanted to have something that looked like old raised leather as on a leather-bound book.

The technique employs anaglypta paper, an embossed paintable wall covering made of cotton and paper pulp. You can find rolls of it at paint stores and online for about $40. a roll, (21″ x 396″) and when you see how much you get it’s really a good deal, especially if you share the cost with someone.

Here’s my list of supplies: anaglypta paper, matte gel, acrylic paint, Pearl Ex powder in carbon black, StazOn ink in black, Meltonian boot and shoe cream polish.

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Here is the raw anaglypta paper. You can see the raised embossing. The paper is heavy, about 300 lb.

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Apply a coat of matte gel. It will act as a primer, so your paint will bond to the surface.

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Paint the front surface with an inexpensive acrylic paint. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just cover all the white and let dry.

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Rub a generous amount of Pearl Ex powder on the surface. If you get too much, you can pull the extra off with a rag.

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Now rub the pad of StazOn ink over the entire surface. It will highlight the high areas. Let the ink dry.

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Now hand rub the entire surface with the cream polish, let dry and buff with a soft rag.

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That’s it- here, Michael is applying the sheet to the back of his box. He used Elmer’s Glue and a brayer to adhere it tightly to the surface.





The Recycled Art of Kris Kuski

Recycled Art.Biz has probably been remiss not showcasing the incredible assemblages of Kris Kuski. The problem has been trying to approach his incredibly detailed works in just a few paragraphs. It’s like the blind man describing the elephant by holding only its trunk.

These small worlds composed of tiny figures and disparate objects, lead us through fantastic scenes, sometimes disturbing and grotesque. The compositions are beautiful, reminiscent of Rococo architecture and upon inspection often appear as cautionary tales of mankind’s frivolity. From his website: “In personal reflection, Kris feels that in the world today much of mankind is oftentimes frivolous and fragile, being driven primarily by greed and materialism. He hopes that his art exposes the fallacies of Man, unveiling a new level of awareness to the viewer.”

Kris unites his compositions through a neutral pallet. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in his studio, watching an assemblage being built from the ground up, but then maybe, just witnessing the resulting works keeps the magic alive. Never-the-less, enjoy a quick view of some of his works below: (You can find more about Kris and his works at http://kuski.com )


The Link: Assemblage and Surrealism

There’s an underlying theme in a lot of assemblage. It’s not that the artists are all creepy, (well, there is that element of creep,) but where does it come from? Why do we so often see disembodied limbs, wings, eyes, etc. in the pieces? And where did the use of words on the surface come from?

Andre' Breton
Andre’ Breton

Looking back to the time that assemblage was first being employed, the movement of surrealism was happening. And the artists of the surrealist movement were highly influenced by the writings of Freud. Freud’s frontier work in the study of the subconscious mind was picked up by the surrealists, and, tapping into the subconscious was thought to be “more powerful and authentic than any product of conscious thought.” Dreams and the dream state with combinations of objects and images that challenged reasoning were studied. Works in assemblage, writing, painting, and collage were infused with this theme.

Yves Tanguy
Yves Tanguy

The surrealists were not just visual artists; writers and poets were forefront in the movement. (see our earlier post with Schwitter’s ‘Ursonate’ sound poem  http://www.recycledart.biz/2013/02/27/kurt-schwitters-and-merz/

Andre’ Breton is recognized as a leader of the surrealist movement. Predominantly a writer, Breton experimented with assemblages that employed the written word on the objects used. Creating about a dozen of the pieces, he called these works, ‘Poeme-Objets.’ (see above photo)


A large percentage of these surrealists worked with assemblage. The found objects were easily obtained and inexpensive. They could be combined in ways that mirrored the dreams/subconscious explored by these artists. In this way, assemblage was not a movement itself in art, but a tool or technique utilized by the artists like painting or collage.

Today, we still see these recurring themes of the dream state and subconscious. Wings, and all-seeing eyes, hands, and images laden with meaning are incorporated into the works. Written words, often partially obscured, run through these pieces reminding us that art often mirrors the social concerns of our day as well as our own observations of our subconscious minds. In this way, these seemingly creepy reflexions by the artists have deep roots into the recognized art movement of surrealism. The belief that creativity comes from deep within a person and can be brought to the surface through art and writing makes for some very interesting constructions.


Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg

 Art From The Beat Gallery: This Week ‘Three’ by Susan Spencer

$125 available through Etsy: (click image to magically whisk off to the Etsy shop)

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Willie Cole: Meaning and Repetition

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Internationally renowned artist, Willie Cole, works in several media. His works in assembled sculpture and altered art have earned him the title, recycledart.biz shoe WC‘Magician of the Mundane.’ Transforming ordinaryrecycledart.biz cole-homedefender objects through alteration and repetition he explores our perceptions of an object’s function and meaning often through its history.

Repetition of the subject in design is fundamental. Images of mandalas come to mind, as well as Warhol’s soup cans and such.

But where Warhol used iconic images as repetition, the images remained recognizable, and, if altered, altered through color; Marilyn remains Marilyn.

Artists of assemblage and altered art often play with disguising the objects used, and as Cole repeats the objects themselves, he alters them to become something else: the shoes become a chair or a figure, the plastic water bottles can become a chandelier or the outline of a car.  In this way, what Cole refers to as ‘the core spirit of an object’ is explored by the artist and later, by the viewer who is left to draw his own conclusions.

As he works with the objects they become imbued with meaning, and as they are masterfully manipulated , Cole’s works cross over from decorative to art.

In this video below of Cole’s ‘Elegba Principal’  the audience participates in a representative journey through rotating doors. Elegba represents a crossroads in Yoruba legend, and the participant must decide “which door?” as she moves through the installation. And the doors themselves become less important as the idea of the meaning of the doors takes precedence.



Art From The Beat Gallery: This Week ‘Number 94’ by Susan Spencer

$250 available through Etsy: (click image to magically whisk off to the Etsy shop)

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Collision: Wallace Berman and the Verifax Images

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Where true art and technology combine, we can be treated to wondrous worlds only made possible because of the artist’s curiosity and fortitude. “What if?” becomes the obsession. And has any contemporary artist shown the explosion between modern altered art and technology better than Wallace Berman?

The works of Wallace Berman continue to astound students of ‘Beat Art’ culture with his magical use of the Verifax machine. His influence among his artist contemporaries summed by Dennis Hopper,”If there was a guru, he was it-the high priest and the holy man, the rabbi.”

Using the Verifax (forerunner to the modern photocopier,) Berman brought together the mediums of photography, collage and printing.

The Verifax uses a 2-part process utilizing a gelatin dye transfer medium, much like photography. An original is placed on a glass plate and photographed producing a negative image. This negative image is placed back in the machine producing a positive copy.

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Berman went after this process with an artist’s persistence, exchanging items in the images and working directly on the original plates themselves. This produced magical images of ephemeral works. He also experimented with the chemical activating process, varying the chemical dosages and exposure times. He also incorporated the negative images back into some works, and lastly affected the still-wet end images with chemicals to produce variations in depth, texture, color and highlights.


Because of his intense manipulations of the Verifax process, no two “collages” were the same. As Sophie Dannenmuller puts it, “The visuals resulting from the automated process, fortuitous incidents and controlled hands-on manipulations were many times removed from the images placed on the Verifax at the beginning of this creative routine, in which artist, chance, and machine alternately took the upper hand.”

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