An Imitation of Life

Assemblage titled To Be AbsentVISUAL THEMES run throughout both my collage and assemblage work.

One theme in particular is illusion, and in the piece shown here it takes literal and figurative forms.

The empty wooden case from an antique mantel clock, when viewed from the rear, struck me as the perfect scale model of a darkened stage, so the illusion of theatre presented itself immediately.

The circular scene at the back is a translucent reproduction of a nineteenth-century landscape that I collaged onto glass. Placed over the circular hole that once framed the clock’s face, it allows light to enter the darkened interior from the rear and creates a second illusion, that of a lighted backdrop.

The tintype photograph of a young boy becomes the discomfited actor on stage, my stand-in, selected in part for the way the baseboard on the wall behind him aligns perfectly with the theatre’s wood floor.

He is literally nailed to that floor but appears somehow to be floating in front of it, ungrounded. Roots in my work often signify our otherwise unseen, sometimes undesired, attachments, and that illusion is what this piece is really all about. It was constructed shortly after 9/11 when I felt stuck, unable to escape the drama unfolding around me.

To Be Absent (2002) 13.5 x 15 x 7 inches; clock cabinet, tintype photograph, roots, book illustration, iron pulley wheel, wood and brass finials, with pencil