Anderson makes sum greater than the parts

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Anderson makes sum greater than the partsAssemblage is an art form that uses found and modified items to create a larger, more interesting whole, often a piece that makes a statement.

Artist Christina Anderson, who has been doing assemblage since about 2006, invites the public to visit her studio during the Maturango Museum’s Open Studio Tour, set for Oct. 27 and 28.

For more information about the tour, a fundraiser for the museum, see

Anderson’s well-organized studio takes up almost the entirety of her garage and is divided up into work stations — a jewelry bench, a wire-work station, a “hot bench” for annealing metal, a station for papercraft, an assemblage area and a painting station. She can clean it all up in 45 minutes or less, so it’s almost always ready to go when inspiration hits.

Anderson and her husband have lived in the Ridgecrest area about four years. One of the reasons they chose their particular house is because it had a small, unfinished building in the back yard.

As the pair worked together to transform the building into her studio, her husband asked if she thought all her stuff would fit into it. She looked around and realized, no, it wouldn’t. So they finished the little building, and he moved his tools and motorcycle into it to make a “man-cave” area, and she took over the garage.

Assemblage is an uncommon art form, and may be outside of most people’s experience. Some may not know how to react to it.

Anderson asks that people take a few minutes and just stop and look at it. Her work usually has layers of materials and is finished on all sides, even the back. Some pieces have a story to tell. So just take a moment to really look at it. It may not be your cup of tea, but if you give it a chance, you’ll at least have a better idea why you reacted to it the way you did.

“Art brings out emotion, good or bad. I want people to be able to find a connection to some kind of art, whether it’s mine or someone else’s. I like people to tell me what they like or don’t like about my art. The feedback helps make me a better artist,” said Anderson.

“I like making pretty things. They’re not for decoration, they’re for absorbing.”

She makes a variety of art pieces that stand alone, as well as pieces she calls “shrines.” Her body adornment pieces are wearable, smaller-scale pieces. “They’re like little shrines, and you have to want to take the responsibility of wearing that shrine. People will want to touch it,” she said.

Her creative process involves really looking at objects. She has organized her space with lots and lots of drawers and bins and racks of objects, all carefully categorized. “I stack things on top of each other. Maybe I’ll wire them together, like when sculptors make an armature. Problem-solving is pretty difficult. This is not like a kit — you have to figure it out yourself. You have to really look at the objects and see if they sing to you.”

Sometimes an idea takes over her life. “When I’m inspired, I can’t do anything else. I have to finish it, and I work without stopping. Sometimes when a piece tells me it’s becoming a story, I have to see how it ends.”

She usually has several pieces going at any one time. “I’ve always liked to open things, like a purse, a box, a bag — what’s in there? I like drawers.

“You have to find a thing that frames another and put stuff in there, but it’s not random, it has to be cohesive. Your eye has got to move around the piece.”

Often, once the piece is assembled, she will paint it all one color, then go back and repaint parts of it to make them stand out, so the emphasis is more focused.

“It’s a learning process — the elements need to point to something. I love my assemblage work.”

Story First Published: 2012-10-24