The Art of the Afterlife
Should objects have a chance at reincarnation? According to many local artists, absolutely!
- by Martha Whitney Butler
Many local artists use these found objects in their artwork. Spencer Gray at Gallery 220 puts together whimsical, cartoonish sculptures. Locals like me are thrilled when we see a piece he received or purchased from us incorporated into his sculpture. Joanna Slay, also at Gallery 220, uses broken pieces of pottery and china to create beautiful mosaics.
Artist and entrepreneur Vicki Niolet blows my mind with the pieces she creates. Even her jewelry lines center around broken clock parts and re-purposed found objects. You can find them at Bay Emporium, and if you're lucky, you can catch her shopping around town with a bag of newly purchased doll parts in tow.
At The French Potager, jewelry designer Maureen Blanchard tastefully puts everything from Bakelite belt buckles to Victorian-era jet together to form magnificent, wearable pieces of art. Most of her pieces were summoned out of her "Katrina pile" where her shop once stood. I even dabble a bit in the art of found objects. As an antique dealer, it gives me much pleasure to find a purpose for the things that have been retired from function.
Artist Lori Gordon made a name for herself with the Katrina Collection, a group of assemblages that she produced from her collected objects post-Katrina. Pieces of that collection have found their way onto the walls of many celebrities and local art enthusiasts.
Perhaps one of my favorite collections of reformed broken china pieces is Patti Fullilove's mailbox. I'll never forget turning into her driveway (I definitely knew which one it was) and seeing the menagerie of meaningful pottery shards and occupied Japan figurines hot glued onto the mailbox. I couldn't take my eyes from the splendor. I knew it meant so much to her, and I knew she could tell me the provenance of each piece.
So while these broken things meant a great deal to their owners or former owners, discarded they've found an even deeper meaning. The soulful re-purposing that a second life brings gives us all cause to carry on.