Kitsch Niche

Ordinary things have extraordinary potential in the artist’s eye of Posey County native Amy Moore. Moore’s passion is a mixed-media form commonly called found object art, or “assemblage, (which is) the fancy word for it,” she explains. Much of her current work is paper collage (using items like pages from old magazines or maps) with various objects placed over it. Her work is inspired by a fondness for bygone times and a sense of history, and she is particularly interested in the 1940s through the 1960s.

A glance around the makeshift studio in her late-1800s New Harmony, Ind., home is like peering around an antique store or flea market. She has collections of decades-old magazines, and items on her worktable include a black handset from an old rotary phone, a tattered book illustration, a bingo card, and a 1971 Masonic bylaws booklet.

“I keep everything,” she laughs. She loves raiding antique stores, but she can find objects to use in her art most anywhere. Something as commonplace as a rock spied while on a walk can inspire her next work. One of her pieces — a vase of flowers — uses collage, acrylics, oils, and glitter on a piece of discarded cabinetry, dotted with lights and edged with bottle caps. The vase is a piece of paper with hand-copied lyrics from an Everly Brothers song, found in a box of old photos.

“I love playing with the idea of what is art, and I love using materials that most people wouldn’t think of as art,” Moore says. The idea that art doesn’t have to be “traditional” is a lesson she learned from her former art teacher at North Posey High School, local artist David Rodenberg. “One day, he brought in a piece of art by an artist named Robert Rauschenberg,” she recalls. “When I saw that piece, it completely changed my idea of art.” She now holds degrees in both studio art and art education and tries to pass that same idea to her own students now as an art teacher at North Posey High School.

“Kitschy” is how she describes her work. She especially loves the reaction someone has to her art. “So often, when you see people walk into a gallery, especially in a formal setting, they’re very proper.” When people see her work, however, “They smile because it’s so different, and I love that.”

She has exhibited work at the Evansville Museum and has a piece in the permanent collection at the University of Southern Indiana. Her work can frequently be viewed and purchased at the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art.

Moore’s work is eclectic and sometimes whimsical, but it’s not frivolous, and it sometimes deals with some weighty issues. One of her current pieces is inspired by the recent lift of the ban on gay youth in the Boy Scouts of America. She wants to offer people ideas to consider without forcing a particular opinion. “You can’t tell people what to think, but you can maybe try to lead them to be more open to thinking a different way about something,” Moore says.

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