Beautiful Beasts – The Elegantly Untamed and the Fantastically Fierce

The Workshop

February 7th – 11th, 2017

One of my all time favorite films is the Belle et la Bete by the French Surrealist Jean Cocteau.  It is a marvelous retelling of the classic tale Beauty and the Beast.  The story, sure you know, is of a Prince cursed in the form of a beast until a beautiful soul will love him despite his ferocious form. Most of the story takes place in the Beast’s far off castle where the stone statues come life and other mystical happenings enthrall the Beauty.  Perhaps the most visually enticing element about this version is the Beast himself: A lion or bear-like creature but adorned like Baroque royalty; his cloak and his gloves are finely embroidered, and his elaborate white collar surrounds his mane like an elegant halo. The film is wondrous paradox of the cultured and the wild housed in one body.

In this class your task is to create a fantastical beast using the processes of assemblage.  This could be approached in a number of ways.  You could create a shrine representing a myth inspiring hybrid featuring critters such as minotaurs, and ganeshas, and centaurs…oh my.  Or maybe your preference is a personified beast from children’s stories, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Aesop’s fables or the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.  An alternate approach would be to create a bedazzled beasty…ornate and bejeweled in something similar to renaissance armor.  I should also mention that this project could be taken more subtly for those with more metaphoric tastes…it could be an exploration with humanity’s dualistic and contradictory nature as in the “Island of Dr. Moreau” …or “Steppenwolf” (the novel…not the band)..or “Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde”..  Ultimately, if your subject matter has a critter in it…then all is well.

Whichever path you choose, we will take this journey by modifying found objects and reinventing them using the process of assemblage, clay, and paint.  It’ll be more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Workshop Gallery

About the Instructor

Michael deMeng is an assemblage artist from Vancouver, Canada who exhibits throughout the United States. As an educator, he has been actively involved with VSA Montana, providing art education and encouraging participation in the arts to people with disabilities. Through these activities, as well as his artwork, deMeng fosters community awareness, and offers creative methods to explore the human experience.

In his art, he addresses issues of transformation. Discarded materials find new and unexpected uses in his work; they are reassembled and conjoined with unlikely components, a form of rebirth from the ashes into new life and new meaning.

These assemblages are metaphors for the evolutions and revolutions of existence: from life to death to rebirth, from new to old to renewed, from construction to destruction to reconstruction. These forms are examinations of the world in perpetual flux, where meaning and function are ever-changing.

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Instructor Supplies

Michael will be supplying ALL the paint and the Two Part Clay. A material fee of $25.00 will provide each student with golden paints and clay. The material fee will be collected on the first day of the workshop. Included in the kit fee:

  • Aves (Two Part Clay)
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Dremels, Drills and Tools
  • Acrylic Latex Caulking

Student Supplies

  1. Animal toys, statues, or figurines.
  2. Human figurines, dolls, or doll parts-  especially important if your Beastly character is part human.
  3. An award plaque, frame or shrine form to house your character…this could be a box, or a frame, a hubcap or a hollowed out clock…just about anything really. It could be something that hangs on the wall or is free standing.
  4. Doodads that will adorn your chosen character.  Pick items that relate visually as well as symbolically to your critter.
  5. Variety of other found objects that might be interesting symbolic additions to myths. Items like watch parts, gears, typewriter parts – just about anything, really. Look for things that are interesting shapes or designs, but also things that might have symbolic significance.
  6. Paint Brushes (a couple small detail brushes, and some cheap brushes (1/2 inch to 1 inch in size)
  7. Wire a couple of different gauges
  8. E6000 adhesive

Optional Supplies (if you want your own tools)

  1. Heat gun
  2. Cordless Drill
  3. Dremel with cut off wheel

Downloadable Beautiful Beasts Supply List

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