Anderson exhibits assemblages at magpie

M. Elwell Romancito
Posted 6/18/16

The symmetrical balance of assemblages by Noël Anderson argues that the natural order of things has come into balance or even to rest, though the items in the assemblage found art pieces have been gathered from the far corners of the planet. When …

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Anderson exhibits assemblages at magpie


The symmetrical balance of assemblages by Noël Anderson argues that the natural order of things has come into balance or even to rest, though the items in the assemblage found art pieces have been gathered from the far corners of the planet. When you lay eyes on them, it seems as though this is where they ultimately belong.

In the world of assemblage art, it is not just the things that make up the piece, but it is a gestalt of all the pieces adding up to more than the sum of their parts because of the way they have been nailed, screwed, threaded, sewn and glued together.

Random bits of wood, wire, bone and glass are assembled to create a world where everything is balanced, symmetrical, used and retooled, re-seen and reshaped. Patterns, repeated forms and multiples with slight variations suggest a world in which the microscopic view and the larger, macroscopic viewpoint are both a part of the field in which the art exists.

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Anderson said she was an artist from the start. She began her formal education attending a fine arts vocational school in high school.

After college and design school, which she earned a brief scholarship and financed on her own, Anderson moved to Tierra Amarilla and taught arts and crafts to the children of the small Northern New Mexico community for almost two years.

“That was a severe reality shift from the suburbs of Columbus to, ‘Welcome to New Mexico.’ It was intense,” she said, “but that’s when I started really delving into my art. It was brutal, lonely, isolated and scary, but it pushed me into my aesthetic. It was bare boned. There were no fancy supplies. I worked with what I had. I started out on a really primal level.”

Anderson began living and working in Taos in 1989.

Anderson also began incorporating works with the beautiful textiles she had access to while working at Treasure Island, a resale clothing shop, which had locations both in El Prado and at Anglada’s Building in Cañón over the years. She also used hand-cut, dyed and stamped leather, jewelry and other accessories because that is what was at hand.

When Anderson finally got settled with a house of her own, she became a designer working for Jennifer Barclay of Blue Fish, a company that makes organic wearable art, but is no longer based in Taos.

“I came up with the seasonal design themes, made new designs, cut the block prints, did the printing and so forth,” Anderson said.

At that time, she began working in leather, but her life relationships, like many people in their 20s, were filled with drama. Still, she made use of her experiences. As she became emotionally involved with a jeweler, she helped him with his work and learned a lot about silversmithing.

In the late 1990s, she started her first assemblage piece, cutting up a leather motorcycle jacket that had been passed around by a lot of her friends.

“The jacket ended up being so rotten and gross you wouldn’t want to wear it, but I made it into two pieces of art,” she said.

For Anderson, this was important. She was beginning to really satisfy her urge to use all these different available elements and turn them into art.

“There was stitching, leather, cactus needles and fan blades. Assemblage took it into that third dimension that I needed. I had been doing beading and jewelry so much I really didn’t like to wear all that jewelry.”

As materials presented themselves, she has incorporated them into her work. There are vintage books, frame remnants, buttons and findings, natural objects, clock gears, hardware and more in her work.

Her combination of stitchwork, stamping, composition and overall aesthetic is a mix of Victorian, steampunk and ornate Eastern embellishments.

“This is her first solo exhibit at magpie, and Anderson has been busy creating a body of three-dimensional pieces, challenging herself to work on a larger scale. Generally, when I host a solo show for an artist in the gallery annex, I do the curating and hanging. However, with Anderson’s show, I am giving her a week and free reign to set up a magical environment,” Georgia Gersh, owner of magpie, said.

“Noël was one of my main inspirations for opening a store and representing amazing talent like her that are underrepresented or unknown. When I visited her studio last summer, I was so taken with how everything was displayed, from her collection of blue glass bottles and figurines to her folded pages of vintage books soon to become mobiles to her finished work on the walls. It was like being a child and finding yourself in a page of a beautifully illustrated fairy tale. I am looking forward to Anderson creating that sense of wonder with this exhibit,” Gersh said.

An opening reception for the show is Saturday (June 18), 5-7 p.m. at magpie, in the Overland Ranch Compound, 1405 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in El Prado. For more information, call (781) 248-0166 or visit


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