A conversation with assemblage artist Flavia Gilmore

A conversation with assemblage artist Flavia Gilmore
Assemblage artist Flavia Gilmore in front of one of her pieces. Her exhibit, “Flavia Gilmore: Paper, Wood, Metal” is now on display at Oceanside Museum of Art through April 28. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — A conversation-style lecture was held with noted assemblage artist Flavia Gilmore at the Oceanside Museum of Art on Dec. 8. 

Gilmore is known for her playful pieces that juxtapose found objects and result in a poignant look at consumer culture.

“It’s an interesting look at consumer culture,” Danielle Susalla Deery, museum director of exhibits and communications,” said. “Her juxtaposition of utilitarian objects gives them a new sense of meaning.”

Gilmore began creating art in her 40s and has been at it for more than 40 years. She started with a painting class, intensely studied artists on her own, and then studied directly with artists she admired.

She said painting led to collage work and then to the assemblage art.

“I’m a late bloomer,” Gilmore said. “In my early 40s I started painting and life drawing and worked my way into assembled art.”

Gilmore said her assemblage work is not narrative. She works intuitively to put together a composition of found objects. Then paints her work.

“I don’t have an agenda,” Gilmore said. “It’s all intuitive. I feel what works together.”

She describes her studio as piles of junk.

“I work with junk,” Gilmore said. “There are huge piles of it in my studio.”

Gilmore scouts yard sales and salvage yards for metal, wood and paper objects, hauls them into her studio and gets to work. Machine parts, tools and toys often become part of her compositions.

“It’s all common things,” Gilmore said.

Time has changed her work a bit.

“I’m not finding the stuff I use to find,” Gilmore said. “I’m really looking for junk, broken things. Thrift shops have useable stuff.”

Sometimes she needs to disassemble items to find usable parts for her artwork.

Another change is that her pieces are getting smaller in scale due to the difficulty of lifting large pieces at age 81.

The intensity of her work has not changed.

There is familiarity, character and balance in her artwork.

Gilmore said she is not too literal with the titles of her pieces, so that viewers can self-interpret the artwork.

“I like it when people can find something in them they can relate to,” she said.

“Flavia Gilmore: Paper, Wood, Metal” is on display at the Oceanside Museum of Art through April 28. Assemblage pieces on display span her career from 1989 to 2012.

The Free Family Art Day on March 3, will teach participants to create assemblage art.

Child-friendly art exhibit tours will also be given on that day.

 

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  1. Danielle says:

    Thanks Promise, great story about Flavia and the exhibition!

  2. Marla says:

    I go to railroad tracks, truck docks, anywhere large equipment vehicles frequent. I, too, am a late bloomer and am “addicted” to looking down to see if I spot anything I can pick up for my stash. I admire your desire to create from salvaged finds. It’s fun, isn’t it?

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