Lost & Found: Everyday objects become works of art

photos courtesy of Drömhus

You might try to pigeonhole Teresa Ann Gifford, but she’s unlikely to stay confined.

The owner of The Assemblage Studio in Green Bay currently has an exhibit of paper quilts at Drömhus in Sturgeon Bay where, earlier this month, she led a workshop called Alice… in Paper: A Journey into Our Own Wonderlands.

“I used to do more quilting and painting, but after moving here, I took workshops in artist books and got excited about making books out of different things,” she said.

Gifford, who studied at the University of Alaska and had exhibited work in solo exhibitions in Anchorage since the 1980s, moved to Green Bay in 2001. Since then, her artistic process has snowballed into working with found objects in the form of assemblage and collage.

“It’s been kind of fun and exploratory, so now I just look at using old objects in my assemblages,” she said. “I look for something that inspires me.”

As her fascination with assemblages grew, Gifford opened The Assemblage Studio in 2006. Originally located in downtown De Pere, the studio moved to its current downtown Green Bay location in 2015. Part gallery, part studio, part workshop classroom, the environment has allowed Gifford to further explore and expand her interests in assemblage art – such as bookbinding.

“I do some of the more traditional methods and incorporate them in my books,” she said. “And then I sometimes use odd things for covers, like ceiling tin. I have built books coming out of boxes. It is super fun.”

Gifford’s favorite project is “altered books”: the process of taking an existing book and using it as a “canvas.” After gluing some of the pages together and making pockets and popups in others, the end result is something completely different from the original form.

Gifford, who plans to return to Drömhus for more workshops in the fall, said her interests are not easily contained.

“I am continuing to work a little bit bigger with collage,” she said. “I like working small, but sometimes it is really fun to get into the bigger pieces.”

Many of her larger assemblage pieces require being wired together, which lists an entirely new set of skills.

As for where Gifford finds her inspiration for pieces both large and small, she said it often comes from the environment around her. As the temperatures slowly rise, her thoughts of her turn to spring and more choices.

“I want to do a lot of gardening and make assemblages that I hang around my yard and on my fence,” she said.

Gifford’s exhibit of paper quilts will be on display at Drömhus, 611 Jefferson St. in Sturgeon Bay, and available for viewing by appointment until April 30. Visit dromhusdoorcounty.com to find out more details.

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