Assemblage is loosely defined as a work of art from found or unrelated objects. It’s the one medium I find most fascinating and perplexing at the same time.
My skills in this area definitely lean toward the art of appreciation.
Meet Tara Hughes, a master of the assemblage. Her work ranges from handmade paper collage cards to full-on pieces of art that leave viewers scratching their heads in awe and sometimes insulted. Some art is supposed to make you think.
Her current obsession with monotones and a matte finish is obvious in much of her work.
I helped Hughes find exhibitors for outdoor markets that Whole Foods sponsored at their stores. We never actually met until she joined me at one of my markets, and my fascination for her strange art form has been growing since.
AV: What’s your background, Tara?
TH: “I was born in Houston and I am a world traveler. I was raised abroad until I was in second grade. This exposure to other cultures greatly shaped who I am. I spent 22 years working for Whole Foods Market … which also had a lot to do with shaping who I am. I left the grocery game due to the physical demands after being diagnosed with arthritis in my spine. I am a wife and mother to a couple of amazing dudes. My cat, Monkey, is my furry soul mate and my friends are extremely important to me.”
AV: How did you become an assemblage artist?
TH: “My mother is a very gifted crafter, so handmade is just a way of life. She taught me how to do paper collage when I was about 12, which I continued to do into adulthood. I found my ‘voice’ when I picked up one of these makeup dolls at a thrift store. I found it absurd that girls should be made to feel that they need makeup to feel beautiful or that these exaggerated features are what they should try to emulate. I felt compelled to turn it into something else. This has evolved and I do work with other items now as well.”
AV: Tell me of your most memorable place to live.
TH: “As a child, I lived in Lebanon in 1984. Although this country was ravaged by war, it was beautiful and of all the places we lived, I find it most memorable. Our village was bombed on more than one occasion and we were finally evacuated when it became too dangerous to live there. We were allowed two suitcases for a family of four.”
Hughes’s friend, Nita Vanhoose, partners with her at many of the shows and creates very similar type of work.
Hughes told me some of her future goals include earning enough to pay the bills and getting a studio for her art. She’s actively entering many exhibits, such as the Art Car Museum and the Black & White Show at Hardy & Nance Studios. She shows at markets like mine, The Market at Sawyer Yards, with Vanhoose. Follow Hughes on Instagram at @tarahugsart
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com.