(Main Gallery) An Assemblage of Spirits features thirty-five of Sandra Muss’ assemblage compositions which celebrate the great traditions of post-Abstract Expressionism and traditional collage, particularly with a nod to the early Pop artists of the 1960s, who were exploring a transition from symbols, recognizable imagery, narrative abstraction and images of popular culture to non-narrative works that were often embellished with found objects.
As a child Sandra Muss was fascinated by the assorted everyday objects that surrounded her, as well as being influenced by the captivating world of nature and the colorful inhabitants of the animal and bird kingdom. She was encouraged by her mother to explore her curiosity over an array of unusual bits and pieces of found organic material, from feathers, dehydrated bones and unusual rock formations to dried plants, flowers and winged specimens of butterflies, insects and birds. Almost every day became a treasure hunt for Muss, who filled her pockets with strangely beautiful things that nature had provided, such as small fragments of manufactured goods, from a twisted wire to a rusted can with a vintage label. Little did Muss know at the time that her fortunate and imaginative experiences at an influential age would permanently alter her artistic vision, mold her creative thinking and eventually guide her towards a studio environment where she could be free to explore her passion to paint and integrate objects into her works.
When building her studio Muss incorporated an open spaciousness and streaming natural light to the structure, creating an inspirational atmosphere by bringing in elements that mirrored the excitement she felt as a child upon discovering something particularly distinctive and organically beautiful. Her studios are filled with the odds and ends that initially sharpened her sight and affection for naturally beautiful things, which not surprisingly slowly drifted onto the assemblages and paintings that she now creates.
Muss’ new paintings are motivated by the majestic qualities of nature, which is a personal reflection of a long journey that incorporates the mysteries of life, the magical characteristics of light and the power of water connected to the strength of the elements. Not only does she have a particular fondness for the materials that she incorporates into her latest series of works, but she has a great respect for the early risk takers and bonafide pioneers of assemblage like Robert Rauschenberg and Joseph Cornell and for the scraped color surfaces of Gerhard Richter.
In addition to being a visual artist, Sandra Muss is also an educator, previously teaching at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Hunter College High School, and philanthropist serving on the boards of several organizations in the Miami area. Muss’ artwork has been on exhibit in Miami, Palm Beach, Boston, North Carolina and Washington DC and is in many corporate and private collections.
Bruce Helander, editor in chief of The Art Economist and best selling art book author, is the guest curator for the Sandra Muss exhibition. Helander explains “There is always something intelligent and reverent going on as she reconfigures imagery; slices and dices conventional values; and constructs surprising and dramatic compositions that celebrate an historic path and are accompanied by her own brand of Miami-based invention.”