Assemblage Art, Mixed Media or Art Quilt

Springs for Sale, I won’t be using them

I was going to participate in Maxine’s UCM [aka unconventional materials] challenge. I even had the materials lined up. My ATC group was already doing a Hardware themed swap so it was a chance to work with UCM. I found out something important about myself….it isn’t for me. Doing the atcs, which you can see in the previous post, reminded me of all the reasons my art uses softer materials but still incorporates paint, dye and embellishments. It also started me thinking about some of the tags we like to use for our art…especially mixed media.  


I ask a question on the QA list. How do YOU as a fiber artist, quilter, art quilter or artist determine how to describe a piece that uses more than fabric and thread? If it has added beading would you call it mixed media? Where do you personally draw the line in the sand. Is there a line you cross that your piece is now assemblage art rather than an art quilt?


I only got a couple of responses which was sad. I think it is an important question for our community to ponder.  I will give you the links to a couple of assemblage art definitions. 
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/39194/assemblage  and also http://painting.about.com/od/artglossarya/g/defassemblage.htm. If you read these you will hopefully understand why I asked the question.   The contemporary use of assemblage art is a kind of Mad Max art, which I love. It just isn’t the only interpretation.


As we struggle to describe what we do as artists and the medium we choose to work with, I think it is important to use correct terminology.  At an art show last year, I entered a couple of pieces into the mixed media category. Sounded right to me. The other entries in that category were pencil/ink/acrylic or some such combination. Yes, that is mixed media  but not what those of us in the art quilt community think of as mixed media. Or the cloth, paper and scissors set either.  


I am simply trying to decide if I will continue to use the term art quilt or even fiber art for my artwork. I really like the Britannica definition and think it is going to require a lot of soul searching. Certainly to take my art past the level of people thinking it is for a bed by using ‘quilt’ should be a good thing. This has been talked to death on the SAQA [Studio Art Quilt Associates] list. But not one person even referenced the definition of assemblage as a viable option. 

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5 thoughts on “Assemblage Art, Mixed Media or Art Quilt

  1. Hi,Just catching up on back reading and wondered if you have decided on what term to use. It really does make one stop and think! Some of my work was definitely assemblage (3-D shadow boxes) although most would fall with-in the fibre/mixed media when I stray outside the 'quilt art' …. Hmmmm …

  2. Janice, I think I like Mixed Media for fiber based art better than Assemblage unless you use a lot of really unusual and unconventional materials because to me Assemblage connotes use of metal, soldering, wire work, etc. So that takes it pretty far from a quilt. I do know that doll makers and other are using wire forms and putting fabric or quilting over the form. I too have trouble with all the definitions. I guess I will remain a fiber or quilt artist, as that best describes the main portion of my work. But I do understand the dilemma.

  3. I think mixed media isn't always understood in the art and gallery world the way we are using it either. I was surprised at how old the term assemblage art is and I like the history behind it. It opens up a lot of new possibilities and no specific expectations of techniques.

  4. The reference from About.com is the one I understand as assemblage. I wouldn't have thought about calling an art quilt with beading "assemblage" without reading the first definition. It is confusing isn't it? I think I would go with "mixed media" before I used "assemblage" for a flat-ish piece made with fabric, thread and possibly lots of other items including found pieces. But that's just me! Perhaps calling it whatever you feel most comfortable with is the key–it might expand others' definitions too.

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