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BSDA Artist Interview: Amy Fleming

July 14th, 2015 · 3 Comments

Amy Fleming is the latest artist to be featured on Buy Some Damn Art. Her series, Our Lady of the Salvage Yard combines religious iconography with junk yard finds. My Q/A with the artist is below:

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Tell us about the subject matter of the Our Lady of the Salvage Yard series. What are the objects that surround the figure? What are the source materials (if any)?

I was looking at traditional religious iconography, mainly Catholic and Russian Orthodox, and was fascinated at how they portrayed faces and figures encapsulated in an encrustation of gold and jewels. I wanted Our Lady of the Salvage Yard to have the same sense of beauty and authority but with items found in automotive junk and salvage operations. She has a halo of transmissions and radiator hoses, and a gold collar of nuts, bolts, radiators, disc brakes and hub caps. She is crowned with head lights. Sometimes she has a welder’s helmet, torches and gloves, other times a respirator mask or protective goggles, all tools of the salvage trade.


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To me your work feels distinctly American and appears to raise questions about some of our deeply- engrained ideas by way of appropriating iconography. Does that jibe at all with your conception of your work?

A few years ago I did a series of drawings of junk and debris filled landscapes. They grew out of a combined interest in history and archeology: in an archeological dig, finding a trash scatter or a dump site provides a motherload of information about the people who produced it. When I lived in what used to be a semi-rural part of Virginia, there were automotive junk years several acres in size. They are mostly gone now, due mainly to stricter environmental laws. It’s mind boggling the sheer amount of stuff we produce and throw away. We are in danger of drowning in our own debris.

Regarding using iconography in my work, I grew up surrounded by images of saints and other religious symbolism, so it seemed natural to fold this into the discards. The idea of the work having an American sensibility is an interesting one. The debris that ends up in my work comes from an industrialized society, with thrown-out vehicles, washing machines, refrigerators and other stuff that were once seen as representative of America’s high standard of living.


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Why print making?

Well, I just really enjoy all forms of printmaking. For one thing, it allows for a lot of options in image making. Take any one concept or image and make it into a screen print, a woodcut, etching, lithograph or what have you, and see how each process changes and expands that concept. I love that. Plus, you get multiple originals of the same image, which I used as a jumping off point for the Our Lady of the Salvage Yard series.




Your assemblages, which are not in the show, are made of the remains left from hunting season where you live in North Florida. Do these works relate to your feelings about the sport of hunting?

They are more about telling stories about this region. Deer and turkey hunting are popular here, and the hunters I’m familiar with hunt for food as well as sport. I do generally stay out of the woods until after season is over though for safety reasons. Besides the animal remains, I frequently come across major appliances that have been dragged out and then used for target practice. Some of my assemblages and dioramas imagine the stories behind for example, a full size refrigerator found deep in the woods. Who hauled it all the way out there and why? There are all these bits and pieces of people’s lives scattered among the pine trees. I’ve found large metal desks and typewriters half buried in vines, like an office being slowly reclaimed by the outdoors. It’s strange and fascinating.


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