The Studio Museum in Harlem | 144 West 125th Street
Since the 1960s, assemblage has reflected the charged political climate of postwar America. The art form, in which natural and manufactured found materials are assembled into three dimensional structures, was used by artists such Betye Saar and John Outterbridge to produce complex objects that engaged issues including the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam and the censorship of art.
For many contemporary artists, found objects have been used for other means. Abigail DeVille employs assemblage, painting and sculpture to make the invisible visible. Valerie Piraino utilizes family memorabilia to create site-specific installations that disrupt our understanding of family history and memory. Several of Cullen Washington Jr.’s works incorporate found objects that bear witness to the Southern culture in which he was born. This lively discussion seeks to question the category of “assemblage” as a critical practice or discursive field, and that addresses specific moments in history and the transformation of assemblage in contemporary art.