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The inspiration here was a found object — a fragment of coldwater coral that had washed up on a nearby seashore. Its whiteness reminded me of the bleaching of tropical coral reefs caused by global warming and climate change. Using primarily aquamarine, pale blue, silver, and white, this assemblage underlines the fragility of our oceans and seas. The title references the need to save not sinking ships but the ocean and, more broadly, to protect our environment.

We tend to think of coral living only in warm, tropical waters. But I found this fragment of coldwater coral while strolling on an island off the coast of Virginia. Fragments do wash ashore from time to time, but this chunk was white rather than the customary pale gray, which is what made me think of bleached coral reefs.

While ships might send an electronic SOS signal, in the past persons stranded on deserted islands would place a message in a bottle and set it afloat, hoping that the ocean waves would bring their message to someone who would rescue them.

This assemblage pays homage to that bygone method of communication but here the sender requesting help is not a stranded traveler but the sea itself where increased acidity and rising temperatures have weakened many forms of marine life. The aquamarine hue was selected as a reference to the tropical seawaters surrounding the many threatened island nations in the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans.

The bottles float on undulating waves of pale blue fabric decorated by strands of aquamarine and hemimorphite, Murano glass beads and freshwater pearls. Freshwater pearls represent both the messages and the bottle stoppers. The miniature port holes underscore the nautical theme. Other components include mirrors, miniature portals, acrylic paint, paper, and dollhouse miniatures.

Custom framed with museum glass in a sophisticated deep wooden frame in collaboration with Chevy Chase Art Gallery, Washington, DC.

Frame color: Silver

Size (in inches): 6.75 x 13.75 x 4


Though many designs appear simple, each work in fact takes several months to create. The final version is rarely the one initially envisioned; the laws of gravity force numerous adjustments. Execution involves a multitude of skills, some of which are acquired specifically to achieve the desired artistic result. In fact, it took several years of experimenting before I even hit upon a technique for creating assemblages. 

The framing process is itself a component of the work, both conceptually and artistically. Though the frame is clean and modern in appearance, the framing process is not as simple as it seems. The determination whether to create a "room" (as with Born Free) or an intimate atmosphere (as with What Price Silence) is in fact part of the artistic process.  

Works are custom framed to provide sufficient depth to accomplish my artistic goals as well as to support the weight of the work (often 40-60 pounds). The 4-inch deep decorative wooden frame curves outward to bring the work closer to the viewer.  

As many designs are supported by the base as well as the backing, the framing process can be tricky. It took several months of experimentation to determine how to create a work that it was practical to frame. The glass protects the work from damaged caused by dust and dusting.

Assemblage silver frame model.jpg
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