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Grey Cross Studios
1920 4th St, New Orleans , LA 70113
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Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Occasional Daily Art Log for 08-29-15

Weekends are teaching days at the studio. I try to have my interns here so I can dedicate extra time to working with them. We spent most of today's session discussing the concept of Assimilation Art.

I've been spending a lot time on this subject in the past few weeks as I attempt to grapple with other artists comprehension of it as well as my own emerging comprehension of something I've taken for granted in my work for many years but never given a name or a cohesive definition to until now.

It occurred to me today while trying to explain to my intern that this isn't something new. I've been doing it since I first began creating art. I guess I just never realized it before now.

One of the very first pieces I ever created called "Autumn Comes" was first an original photograph. I'd had it blown up to 20"x 30" and I'd attached it to a beautiful old ornate frame I had. The I started painting over the photograph, highlighting some areas, adding new things, until I'd built a totally new piece out of the original photo.
Autumn Comes
Most would say "well thats just mixed media art". And they would be correct. But even then I wanted to go so much further with it. I remember having as conversation with my partner about how much fun it would be to rephotograph the piece after it was painted and create a new digital image out of it.

In effect I'd taken the first step in the cognitive process of assimiliation one piece of art into another and yet another and yet another until the original art (the first photograph) had evolved over and over again, morphing into more and more variations of the original. 

While I never did take that original painting and do more with it, the seeds had been planted. I was hooked I think, even though I wasn't sure what I was hooked on.

It wasn't until almost a year later that I took another step in the process. I'd already gotten deep into incorporating sculpture into wall art. I began doing that almost from the start. But one day I got thinking again about merging and morphing of different types of art. I'd created the piece below called "The King of Carnival". A 5 foot canvas partially sculpted, partially painted.

Last King of Carnival - Painting

When I completed it, I decided to try something new. I wanted to make a true sculpture to go along with it. But I wasn't really a sculptor at that time, so I kept it simple and created the following cube sculpture.

Last King of Carnival - Sculpture

I was careful to match the designs together, but had effectively created two pieces of art that could stand alone or work together. 

My mind was filled with lightning when I finished that first cube. Damn this is fun! I am not even sure what I just did, but I liked it! 

And of course my mind went "Hey! What if..." and I was off on another tangent completely. What if I brought the two pieces to life? Without much thought at all I called up one of my favorite body painting models and said "come over here!!!!" Before he could say hello I had his clothes off (get your mind out of the gutter) and the paint on him. I would bring the King of Carnival to life! 

So I body painted him, just the two of us alone in the studio. No audience. This wasn't like the old days of body painting where it was done in front of a live crowd. This would be a true work of art, done precisely to create one final iconic piece of art that would represent the King of Carnival as he was in my imagination. After 4 hours of painting and another 2 fiddling with lights and photographing the model, this was the final result.

Last King of Carnival - Personified

I'd done it! I'd pulled it off creating three distinct pieces of art all using different mediums, merging and morphing until I got what I wanted. 

Here finally all the elements of Assimilation Art were assembled. I could see the potential clearly even if I could not yet name it. 

In the intervening years I experimented over and over again with this concept, straying into it, and then heading back to more concrete art projects. 

And here now I stand on the threshold again of bring the concept to real life by giving it a name and trying to at least identify its parameters and what makes it different from mixed media art. 

And here I spent the afternoon trying to explain this to my intern. I am not sure I succeeded, but it sure clarified it in my own mind at least enough to lay down this blog entry. I am sure I will write more about it in the coming days, so hopefully my artists companions out there around the world won't get bored with me if I belabor it a bit. But I think it is important. I think it must be explored more. And I think I'm very tired now and will end this random blog entry and begin another day new tomorrow.


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