Alchemy

How We Measure Things:Holes. By Lee Puffer. Ceramic and found object.

How We Measure Things:Holes. Ceramic and found object.

Every once in a while a friend will give me an object saying “I thought you could use this in your work.” Of course I am grateful for the gift. I am flattered by the thoughtfulness and validated that my friends acknowledge and support my work as an artist. That being said, I am usually completely baffled by the gift-object and my friend’s intention for it. What do they mean “use it in my work?” How? What, I wonder, are they thinking I should do with this thing? What is the image in their minds eye that links this object to me and my work? I will never know. It doesn’t matter, though, I am flattered and challenged and I accept.

Anyway, I love a challenge. The challenge is to take this foreign thing and somehow make it speak in my language. I use the gift-object as a word, expanding my vocabulary while still keeping the same tone and voice. The work must be meaningful, and the finished piece has to communicate something other than the gift-object’s original meaning. Finally, the artwork must communicate a point of view that is cohesive to the central conceptual issues of my ongoing practice.

But making meaning with stuff that already means something requires special skill. Gift-objects, especially vintage ones, must be transmuted very carefully. Found objects carry an aura of history and nostalgia. When used in assemblage, the gift-object could dominate the artwork with the power of its history.

This is the challenge and the fun of assemblage.

Shoe Tree, by Lee Puffer. Ceramic, found object and Manzanita branch.

Shoe Tree, by Lee Puffer. Ceramic, found object and Manzanita branch.

Shoe Tree, detail, by Lee Puffer. Ceramic and found object.

Shoe Tree, detail, by Lee Puffer. Ceramic and found object.

How We Measure Things:Time, by Lee Puffer. Ceramic and found object.

How We Measure Things:Time, by Lee Puffer. Ceramic and found object.

Alchemy, by Lee Puffer. Ceramic, found object, Manzanita branch.

Alchemy, by Lee Puffer. Ceramic, found object, Manzanita branch.

St. Francis, by Lee Pufffer. Ceramic and found object.

St. Francis, by Lee Pufffer. Ceramic and found object.

How We Measure Things:Length, by Lee Puffer. Ceramic and found object.

How We Measure Things:Length, by Lee Puffer. Ceramic and found object.

How We Measure Things:Difference, by Lee Puffer. Ceramic and found object.

How We Measure Things:Difference, by Lee Puffer. Ceramic and found object.

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