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|December 25-31, 2008
Lakewood artist transforms found objects into imaginary worlds
by Barbara Byrnes-Lenarcic
Lakewood artist Pamela Milld escapes into tiny worlds. Her journey can start in an antique store in Loveland, a craft shop on Colfax or a hobby store in Lakewood. Browsing the shelves, Milld finds little pieces, such as a dog, a mirror or a radiator. Then, the artist assembles her tiny treasures in a tiny box and a cool cosmos emerges.
“I feel like the girl in Rumpelstiltskin who spins straw into gold,” said Milld, during an interview at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center.
The museum is the venue for the National Collage Society 24th Annual Juried Exhibition on view through Jan. 11, 2009. The show features work by 58 collage artists from around the country. Collage art includes pasted paper on paintings, three-dimensional wall-mounted art and freestanding assemblages.
Milld’s piece, “Me and My Arrow,” is a humorous collection of stuff that includes a naked boy with a pointed hat in front of a chamber pot, a spotted dog, an eye looking through a window and a mirror in a black-and-white box that resembles a 1940s bathroom. The work is based on Harry Nilsson’s 1971 song, “Me and My Arrow,” created for the animated film The Point! The film is about a boy born with a round head in the Land of Point who befriends a dog named Arrow. When Milld discovered the rubber boy, the dog and the chamber pot during a shopping spree, a whimsical world whirled in her mind and she was on a quest to find more objects. Three months later, Milld played with the pieces in a box and her vision became real.
“Milld’s work was definitely one of the pieces that caught our eye as we were unpacking the show,” said Erik Mason, curator of research and information at Longmont Museum. “I am not quite sure what is going on in that collage, but it definitely deserves a second look.”
Milld’s assemblages dare viewers to break away from the ordinary and wander into a world of weird. One of her newest creations contains a large face with a huge nose in an Asian style box that features a dog mounted at the top of the box staring at the viewer with bright red eyeballs. Another box contains an exotic mother and child and a button that Milld found on eBay, with a reference to the late Don Ho, the Hawaiian singer.
It took Milld nearly 35 years to make the break from a portrait painter to an assemblage artist. Classically trained in drawing and painting, Milld made her first assemblage while attending the Vesper George School of Art in Boston from 1968 to1971. Milld’s teacher, the late Irving Moskowitz, liked the piece and encouraged the artist to go toward assemblage art, but Milld was not ready to tackle tiny, off-the-wall worlds just yet. Into a more traditional lifestyle then, Milld created stunning oil portraits of her two sons, captured her cat on lace in a drawing, and earned a BFA degree from the University of Colorado.
Facing and surviving the disappointment of a failed marriage and the challenges of supporting two sons as a single mom gave Milld the confidence to return to collage, an art form that has always required courage to create.
During World War I, the Dadaists, a group of artists who challenged conventional artistic expression, expanded the collage techniques started by the Cubists by adding maps and transportation tickets to paintings. The Dadaists then assembled found objects, bringing a three-dimensional aspect to the art form. And Marcel Duchamp, one of the most famous Dadaists, took collage to a humorous level by creating “readymades,” works that were modified manufactured objects, such as a urinal, that he signed and submitted to exhibitions.
Following the Dadaists’ lead to defy tradition, Milld adds her own spin to assemblage by integrating her persona into each boxed slice of life. A serious student with a background in art history and languages, such as German and Swedish, Milld’s works often incorporate international themes. An avid shopper at thrift stores and antique shops, Milld’s Lakewood home is filled with strange, seemingly random items that eventually become transformed into art.
Speaking about “Me and My Arrow,” Milld said, “If he was just standing there, maybe it might be obscene, but a little kid in front of a chamber pot is a little kid in front of a chamber pot.”
On the Bill:
The National Collage Society 24th Annual Juried Exhibition is on view through Jan. 11 at the Longmont Museum & Cultural Center, 400 Quail Rd., Longmont, 303-651-8374,
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