One man’s junk is an artist’s treasure

Eco-friendly artist coming to Douglas College

By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor

Mixed media artist Cynthia Minden has always had an affinity for old keys and bent nails. Her work, which features rusty locks, driftwood, leaves, and more, will be in the Amelia Douglas Gallery from November 7 to December 20.

I spoke to Minden last week about her upcoming show, her art, and how she began her journey into the world of mixed media assemblage.

“I saw really interesting relationships between form and between surfaces and between texture and shapes and negative space, and that started to fascinate me,” she said.

“As I would place something down on my workspace, then I would notice that the torn edge of that thing might have a relationship to the torn edge of something else. I really started to place things in a way that hopefully makes that more apparent.”

Because most of her assemblages include a variety of items placed together based on relationships, she describes her art as “studies” and gives them study numbers for titles instead of names.

Her mixed media assemblages came as a response to her curiosity and worry over what the Earth would do with the junk that people threw on the ground.

“I got out my collection of rusty stuff and got out another collection of found, gathered natural materials: seed pods and curled leaves and bits of wood that were interesting,” she said.

“I wondered if I could create new objects that would make sense of how the Earth might absorb this junk.”

The title of her Douglas College exhibit, Reclamation, reflects how she believes the Earth will react and what her art represents.

“I think the Earth will take back these things hopefully and vines will grow over and things will fall on top and some things will get buried and other things will emerge,” she said.

This idea of the Earth claiming objects and then having them resurface comes from the first mixed media piece Minden made out of junk she found on her farm that the previous owner had buried.

Collecting the refuse and putting it in a painted shadow box, she created One Man’s Junk, which began her fascination with framing items she found discarded on the ground.

“It’s interesting to me to take something discarded and reframe it. I mean, literally put a frame around it but also reframe it visually so that thing becomes precious and you see it differently,” she said, explaining how the junk became art.

“If you pick it up and dust it off and then find some interesting relationship between that and some other pieces, it’s a whole new way of looking at ordinary stuff.”

The only rule Minden has imposed on her art creation is that she will not work with plastic in her work because plastic is hard for the Earth to reclaim. She admits that some of her work includes bits of plastic, but the unnatural material will never be a focus of her art.

The Reclamation opening reception will be held November 7 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Amelia Douglas Gallery. Minden will give a talk in the gallery on November 8 at 10 a.m.