Collage and Assemblage Art Works
Life Partners Create Intimate Collaborations
To view the collage and assemblage art works of a grouping called "Reconcilable Differences" is to enter the private world of creative life partners. These collaborative works by Lisa and Tom Dowling are among the most inspiring I've seen. They display a beauty and virtuosity that come from an intellectual/artistic compatibility amounting to a meeting of hearts and souls. Lisa says, "I say 'soul mates' all the time and believe in it."
Lisa is a published poet, composition professor and avid reader. She works with objects, incorporating her poetry into textiles, functional housewares and into Tom's works. She often composes poems about the creative process. In "Tanka Series," she writes, "He shaped art from air..."
Tom is a painting/drawing/art history professor and voracious reader. He takes a word-oriented approach to art, creating paintings, installations, collage and assemblage art. "As a thinking person, I am interested in conceptual art," (that conveys an idea or concept in non-traditional artistic ways), he says. "As an artist, I live to make objects."
Home as a Work of Art
The Dowlings live with their daughter, Clare, and dog, Zack, in a craftsman-like house in Orange County, California. The house is as much their personal assemblage art work as their home. Tom has applied object-making skills to re-shaping the house, including building a studio for himself and a writing study for Lisa.
The Dowling's home is filled with books, rugs, artwork and cool ocean breezes. It is enhanced by gardens that Lisa planted, by a fountain she built and by a Frank Lloyd Wright sculptural piece, inspired by works in architect Wright's Hollyhock House (built in 1919-1921 in Los Angeles.) "The sculpture is lovely and representative of our love for culture and design," she says. Within the walls of this personal, yet inviting space, Tom and Lisa have collaborated on many artworks.
Reconcilable Differences is composed of collage and assemblage art works (sculptures made from non-traditional materials). The Dowlings refer to these as collaborations, and specifically as altarpieces, books, triptychs, diptychs and installations. And each work includes a poem by Lisa, painted or sculpted.
Undone a Triptych
"Undone" a triptych, combines a pink, sequined dress Tom purchased years ago, combined with a poem by Lisa and painting of an easel. Lisa wore the dress, then Tom created the artwork. The poem reads: "It is given that the brush / will lift away from your desire: / the pigment chooses its own hue as you / paint, assigns value, considers shade / and tint; the light divides and falls / away like a lover slipping / languorously out of her sequined dress."
"Undone" brings the viewer into a deeply intimate world - one filled with soft hues and sensuality. The artwork takes you to that secret space that exists between two lovers, where words, forms, shapes, gentle colors and lights merge and flow in harmony.
A collage and assemblage art altarpiece, "Japanese Maple," combines rough-hewn wood shaped like a book with antique hinges and a drawn hand with a real Japanese maple leaf. The poem reads, "in the descent / there are only / two thoughts: / rest / and / rain. / love to lie, / arch-backed in / the ecstasy of fall / spine curved / with want / and release."
Lisa explains, "I wrote that poem when we met in Italy several years ago. Tom collected that maple leaf years before from a tree in Warrick, England. The altarpiece required a small, quiet poem, something meditative. Only after I struck the poem into the wood did Tom start digging through his collections and recover the leaf. It came together effortlessly. Much like we did."
Hand Thrown Vessels, Silk Scarves and Wooden Beams
Other pieces combine hand-thrown vessels, silk scarves and wooden beams sheathed in velvet - all with Lisa's poetry. Tom remarks, "I am more complete with Lisa. Our life is a collaboration."
Metaphorically, their works are collage and assemblage art objects composed of lines, words, thoughts and emotions. The pieces are physical manifestations of the deeper workings of their minds, hearts and souls.
Reconcilable Differences was shown at a gallery in Newport Beach, California in 2005. The Dowlings treasure the individual works and often display them. Tom Dowling can be reached at: www.tomdowling.com.Back to top