Saturday, March 22, 2008

Len Cowgill - Containment Beyond Assemblage

Len Cowgill

Assemblage is an art form in which natural and manufactured, traditionally non-artistic, materials are assembled into three-dimensional structures. As such it is closely related to collage, and like collage it is associated with (but predates) Cubism. As much as by the materials used, it can be characterized by the way in which they are treated. In an assemblage the banal, often tawdry materials retain their individual physical and functional identity, despite artistic manipulation.

I was first introduced to assemblage through the work of John Chaimberlain’s metal constructions made of wrecked cars at the Menil Museum in Houston. Fascinated, I soon familiarized myself with the work of Louise Nevelson and Joseph Cornell, two of the world's most notable assemblage artists. I have always felt a particular connection to Cornell’s work. My flickr friend, Len Cowgill’s assemblage work appears to be strongly influenced by Cornell.

Great minds think alike…

He also constructs some mighty impressive collage work!

You May Hear but You Don't Listen

This is an assemblage that Len created by meticulously rendering individual drawings of 86 deceased artists and attaching them to a vintage wooden type tray.

Len Cowgill - 86 Dead Artists

Andy Warhol detail

Len writes:

My work is about containment. I explore some facet of the human condition in a drawing and box it up or put it in a bottle.

Presenting P.T. Barnum

She Thinks She Was Adopted

I create a stage for the drawing and invite the audience to get close, look at and touch it.

I Wonder What Will Become of Me
Sometimes, the drawings are in the form of puppets and the viewers may tug the strings and make them jump. I put music boxes that the viewer can crank on some pieces or I’ll mount the drawing on a turntable so it will spin.

Monday Morning Turn Around

The important part is that the experience is shared, that a story has been told…perhaps not the story I had in mind. I’ve succeeded when the piece develops its own story.

Tully Doesn't Live Here Any More

Not all of my work does a jig or cranks out a song. Some of my work is very still, a moment caught and pinned down, like a butterfly in a museum exhibit, a cabinet of curiosity.

Waiting for Mother

But my boxes and bottles contain glimpses of ordinary moments and thoughts we’ve all experienced, a bit of the joy and pain of growing up, of being human.

I could look at Len's work all day long! It draws me in and makes me curious. The use of text with images is wholly compelling. It all looks so familiar...but I guess that's the point. Isn't it?

He is represented by the Tamarack Gallery


Sandy said...

Fabulous ART and fabulous POST!
Hope you have a wonderful Easter!
Sandy ;)

lee said...

Thank you for introducing Len and his art, I love it. My favourites are the box with all the dead artists, and the bottle with the girl who am I. I am off to try to find out more about him, thanks again

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Stacy Alexander