KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 1: Fall 2014
Visual Art: Sculptures [R]
Commentary: 685 words

Three Assemblage Sculptures

by Amalia Melis

Hidden Within: sculpture by Amalia Melis
Hidden Within
Copyright © 2010–2014, by Amalia Melis
All rights reserved


Torso: sculpture by Amalia Melis
Copyright © 2010–2014, by Amalia Melis
All rights reserved


Hop On, I’ll Give You a Ride: sculpture by Amalia Melis
Hop On, I’ll Give You a Ride
Copyright © 2013–2014, by Amalia Melis
All rights reserved

— Sculptures appeared in group art exhibits in Athens, Greece (2012 and 2013); in Berlin, Germany (2010); and in Vermont, USA (2013)

Commentary on Process by Amalia Melis

I have found there is a connection between using my hands and the process of writing: shaping found objects like wires, metal, and other pieces into a coherent whole is much like what goes on in my head when I write. At some point the shapes begin to make sense to me. I have bags full of embroidery threads, beads, and “tamata,” the Greek votive offerings that I have loved since childhood. They hung in front of icons at church, each one symbolizing a story: a boat, an arm, an eye, a torso, a book, a house, etc. And they made me wonder what the wish, the prayer may have been. Stories told only to a saint. I collect them like mad from flea markets and stores selling religious goods. Though I use them sparingly, they are an important part of the three-dimensional stories I create with assemblages.

I might hang a piece of metal on the balcony wall and ignore it for days or months, or pay it some attention but get on with doing other things, or I might pounce and work until dark to go deeper and deeper into the “abyss”—not quite sure where I am going—only knowing I must go—and forgetting where I am—forgetting about eating or anything other than focusing on the assemblage. It is a magical “slide” into the space I seek. This whole process works as a stepping stone to something I am working out in my head.

I work that way with stories, too, writing in stages to get the first draft: getting some words down in any shape or form, which can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few years. And I am not even touching the part where I re-write, throw out, and shape the writing to make a story—that might take another block of time to get words right. Writing essays comes closest to the writing I have done professionally (hard news and feature writing). There is no room for fantasy or play; but yet there is, so long as I stick to the facts. I love to write lyrical essays. All the contents are true but the flow of words reads more like poetry or “story.”

Fiction writing hands me a blank canvas that is both terrifying and exciting. I can make my characters hang upside down, cry or fly; but I am also captive to what they want to say, just as in my first novel manuscript, which unfolds in a patchwork kind of way. It was during this time of exploration and anguish into the world of fiction writing that I paid attention to scraps of metal thrown on many Athenian streets. They “popped” out at me for the first time and while I may have looked like a junk collector I was trying to find ways into my story, except in a physical way, a way to help me avoid the blank page that was painful to go to. And so the process of making assemblage sculptures was born.

Telling my story of Greek immigrant women with metal and wires made it safer to return to the pages I had written, and eventually to put together an entire novel. Now the assemblages I continue to create are not connected to the novel anymore. They tell their own stories, some of which are more fun and light.

And now I am daring to write the first pages of a second novel. I am not sure what sort of assemblages might emerge as I try to figure out where I want to go with this story.

The writing and the assemblages are intertwined for me. I go from one medium to the other to express stories that I need to tell. Sharing them with an audience happens after the stories end for me. I don’t think about audience while creating or I would freeze. I think about what the process is telling me about story. Then I tell that to the audience in hopes they want to see and hear the result.

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