JP Open Studios Preview

July 11, 2008
By

KRISTIN BONELLI


courtesy photoWe Like Waterfalls” by Amy Hitchcock is a 11″ x 16.75″ x 4″ found object assemblage.

Amy Hitchcock: Assemblages

The art of Amy Hitchcock is full of vintage toys, plastic animal figurines, old nails, tools, sewing accessories, hinges and cutouts from old magazines and books. The Jamaica Plain resident uses these treasures to construct her assemblages, which she defines as “an attempt to tell a story based upon found objects, photographs, postcards and other things with wooden boxes as the frames.”

She started collecting odds and ends, inspired by her mother, who ran an antiques store. Much of her work is actually culled from generations of her own family’s collections of things.

When looking at Hitchcock’s art, an immediate influence that comes to mind is Joseph Cornell (1904–1972), an artist famous for his own assemblage work, who was the subject of a major retrospective at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem last summer. Hitchcock’s pieces are her own memories materialized into three-dimensional form, but she welcomes the Cornell association: “It’s a good association,” she said. “It makes it easier for people to access my work… I don’t know of many other artists making assemblages.”

Although the nature and themes of her pieces are personal, Hitchcock said, “I want the pieces to be accessible,” serving as gateways to the viewer’s memories. Her pieces trigger recollections, and Hitchcock has heard reactions in a broad spectrum of public emotions to her pieces at shows.

Hitchcock began her work as a way to learn about her older relatives, exploring the objects from her family’s collection as a way to connect to their lives and interests. The use of vintage photographs and objects immediately resonates with viewers who bring memories of their own families to Hitchcock’s pieces.

Hitchcock’s assemblages tell stories, often using contrasting imagery to reveal complex sentiments. One of her pieces, titled “Messy,” depicts brightly colored cutouts of a smiling man and woman. Hitchcock frames the cheery couple under wire grating. A barrage of knick-knacks collect at and clutter the bottom of the piece, belying the couple’s breezy, easygoing attitude. Such juxtapositions reveal the multifaceted stories behind these seemingly quaint, simple boxes.

Hitchcock, who has lived in the JP for 13 years, will be participating in her sixth Jamaica Plain Open Studios (JPOS) this year. Her work will also be shown later this summer at Arts on the Arcade in Government Center, where she will be exhibiting collages made from vintage Boston postcards. Examples of her work can be found at www.amyhitchcock.com.

JPOS is celebrating its 15th year as the premiere annual arts event in one of Boston’s most exciting neighborhoods. JPOS showcases 220 artists at 75 sites. The event is open to the public and will take place Sept. 27 through 28 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information and to preview artists’ work, visit www.jpopenstudios.com or call 943-7819.

JPOS is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council, a local agency which is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, administrated by the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events.

The writer is a volunteer with JP Open Studios.