From Broken Bones to Boxes

On the evening of June 5, 2014 I missed a step coming down the stairs at home and broke my foot. It was the fifth metatarsal, to be exact, and my first broken bone ever. The doctor told me to expect it to take at least 10 to 12 weeks for my foot to heal. I did everything I could during my recovery to show my doctor that I possessed superhuman bone growing abilities. Yet despite my best efforts, it was 11 weeks before I was allowed to wear a normal shoe on that foot.

For the first six weeks of my injury all of my time and energy was devoted to healing. Almost every other aspect of my life, aside from my day job, was put on hold including my studio art practice. But as more time passed I became anxious to start making art again. I was still unable to safely and comfortably move around my studio space so I decided to utilize my downtime at home researching art and artists that inspire me. I was searching for a new way to express myself creatively and to take my art in a different direction.

I have always been intrigued by the work of Joseph Cornell but was not terribly familiar with his life or what moved him to create his amazing box assemblages. While reading a couple of biographies and more closely studying his body of work I learned that some of Cornell's early art was in the form of collages. He was especially influenced by Max Ernst and other Surrealists such as Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp. This inspired me to start making collages of my own, something I had never done before. I figured I could easily do this at home while I was still recovering.

I began by making simple collages using images cut from a catalog I had received in the mail. To add dimension, I pasted some of these collage creations into kraft boxes that I'd saved from a monthly subscription service. I was really excited and encouraged by the results of my efforts as they very much appealed to me visually. And I was happy to be reusing materials that were sent to me for another purpose.

More time passed and, with my foot adequately healed, I was able to return to my studio where I decided to make metal boxes out of scrap steel while continuing to create collage boxes at home. To the metal boxes I have been adding decorative elements using found objects that I have been collecting for many years. The metal boxes are a work in progress and the found objects are not currently permanently affixed to the boxes. I welcome feedback on these forms as well as responses to my collage boxes (see images above) as I continue to experiment with different materials and explore this new direction of art making.

It was a painful and frustrating experience dealing with a broken foot this summer but I believe that it is part of what led me to this new body of work. Being immobile allowed me to reflect on past art (my own and others) and helped me take a new leap forward in my creative practice. I am looking forward to seeing where this takes me.