Studio Notes: Understanding Mixed Media Art

Mixed media is the term used to describe pieces of art that are created using more than one type of media. For example, Holly Hawthorn, an artist who maintains a studio in the American Fabric Arts Building, creates works that include paint, ceramics, and sea shells that she’s collected on her travels around the world. 

 Artwork by Holly Hawthorn

Artwork by Holly Hawthorn

Artists have been working with mixed media for a very long time. Picasso and Braque are often credited with opening the door to mixed media with their Cubist-era work. Their early collages soon gave way to more and more complex assemblages, as artists throughout the world felt free to incorporate whatever elements they felt necessary into their artwork.

What Makes Mixed Media Art Appealing?

For the artist, the ultimate appeal of mixed media may be the freedom to create without preset boundaries associated with working with a single media. People who know they’re looking at an oil painting have certain expectations of what an oil painting will look like; the same is true for the watercolorist. With mixed media artwork, anything is possible.

For the collector, the reasons to choose mixed media artwork vary. During our annual Open Studio event, we’ve heard the Bridgeport art community talk about the energy, creativity, and thought-provoking nature of mixed media artworks. Roxanne Faber Savage, another American Fabric Arts building resident, creates eye-catching installations, prints, paintings, and mixed media works.

 Artwork by Roxanne Faber Savage

Artwork by Roxanne Faber Savage

Collecting Mixed Media Artwork

Whether you’re new to collecting or you’d like to add to your current holdings, the world of mixed media artwork has lots to offer. There are many ways to organize your collection – some people choose artwork that reflects a certain theme, while others look for pieces specifically chosen for the place they will be displayed. Still others focus their collection on specific artists, or artists from a specific region.

When buying mixed media artwork, it’s important to understand what’s involved in displaying it appropriately and helping it stay in pristine condition. When you have the opportunity to connect directly with the artist for their insights, you should definitely do so.  If that’s not an option, we recommend checking out these tips from Architectural Digest: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/our-guide-to-hanging-art-like-a-professional