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Transformations (From Bibendum to the Michelin Man)

2021

Using advertising posters of the Michelin Tire Company from the 1800s and 1900s to represent changes in society during that period.Dollhouse miniatures and digitally manipulated photographs highlight the changes in the image of the “Michelin Man” over the years. Initially frightening, this symbol of the Michelin Tire Company softened over time. To the left of the assemblage, a miniature red chair reminiscent of car tires is paired with an early poster in which the Michelin Man holds a goblet filled with nails and broken glass to highlight the strength of Michelin tires. Juxtaposed on the right is a more modern representation of the Michelin Man paired with a car tire and tools. Red, ochre and black.

Originally known by his given name (Bibendum), and now known simply as the Michelin Man, this iconic symbol was once designed as a menacing figure to represent the toughness of the company’s bicycle tires. In the poster on the left, he is seen holding a goblet filled with nails and glass. As Michelin shifted from producing bicycle tires to manufacturing car tires, the image of the Michelin Man softened, becoming friendlier and more approachable. In the late 1920s, when Eileen Gray designed a chair reminiscent of stacked tires, she named the chair Bibendum. It remains in production today.

Separating the two time periods is a shelf holding a bottle and a vase reminiscent of the goblet filled with nails and broken glass in the poster. The items on the shelf pay homage to the works of Giorgio Morandi, an Italian artist who painted still-lives of bottles and vases during the period between the two representations of the Michelin Man.

Although inspired by one of my necklaces, the assemblage is the first one I designed without any segment. Materials include dollhouse miniatures, mirrors, acrylic paint, digitally manipulated photographs of Michelin Tire posters, paper and wood.

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

Price: USD 2,500.

Frame color: Black

Size (in inches): 9.75 x 13.75 x 4

Framing

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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