I attended an artist entrepreneur workshop a few months ago. As I listened to each artist introduce themselves and as I introduced myself I realized that many of us refer to ourselves as mixed media artists. But after the introductions I was no closer to understanding what kind of art they produced then they were to understanding what I created. This dilemma got me thinking. What is mixed media? Am I really describing my work accurately. What is the difference between mixed media and assemblage?
In college my professors kept it simple: painting, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking. The art history books focused on explaining the period of art, influences that transformed it and its evolution. The art historians created the labels that categorized art. But in this world of creatives, artists are now encouraged to label themselves in order to market to the right audience or enter the right show. I have always found this challenging as I enjoy using a variety of materials.
When I graduated college, I don't recall the term assemblage being used by artists. I had created my first wood and metal wall reliefs and considered them sculpture. Sculpture is often thought of as a three-dimensional form that can stand on it's own or be secured to a base. As I entered shows I found the distinction between sculpture and mixed media. The term mixed media seemed to be a better fit for my work therefore, I started using it to describe my work. I have been using it ever since.
So what is mixed media?
According to Wikipedia: "Mixed media, in visual art, refers to an artwork in the making of which more than one medium has been employed." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_media
If mixed media is more than one medium than what is the difference between mixed media and assemblage?
First lets look at the definition of assemblage.
According to Wikipedia: "Assemblage is an artistic form or medium usually created on a defined substrate that consists of three-dimensional elements projecting out of or from the substrate. It is similar to collage, a two-dimensional medium. It is part of the visual arts, and it typically uses found objects, but is not limited to these materials." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assemblage_(art)
So if a mixed media artist uses a three-dimensional element in a piece and maintains it's three-dimensional form, then the artist would and should describe the work as assemblage. In my work, I do like to break the flat two-dimensional surface. I use many items in my attempt to do so. Some items may borderline the question of is it three-dimensional or projects enough off the surface to be considered assemblage. But so far, I am comfortable exploring mixed media through my removable (or non-permanent) wall reliefs.
I hope this helps you in understanding what mixed media art is versus assemblage and why I refer to myself as a mixed media artist. I have learned that it is helpful when introducing myself to elaborate a little more than I have in the past. Often our first impression is through the words we describe ourselves or our art with and not images of our art. As more artists explore the vast possibilities mixed media provides, the ability to accurately describe ourselves to consumers becomes more important.
#jnicholsart #mixedmedia #wallrelief #lifeofanartist
I'm Jennifer Nichols, a mixed media artist from North Carolina. I enjoy capturing the essence of nature through a variety of materials. I incorporate found objects such as strainers and bottle caps into my work. I am drawn to these items but it is also important to me to do my part to protect our environment by keeping things out of the land fill.