New Art Exhibit at Danforth Gallery, The Art of Assemblage: Myth, Mystery, and Spirituality

Sally Wagley, Supper (2022), photocollage/assemblage, 18” x 18”, ©Sally Wagley

The Art of Assemblage: Myth, Mystery, and Spirituality

Abbie Read, David Matson, Sally Wagley, Robert Katz

January 23 – March 8, 2023
Charles Danforth Gallery at the University of Maine at Augusta, Jewett Hall, University of Maine at Augusta

Exhibition Programming

  • Gallery Talk by Exhibiting Artists
    Tuesday, January 24 at 12 p.m.
  • Opening Reception
    Sunday, January 29, 1 – 2:30 p.m.
  • Zoom Panel Discussion
    Wednesday, February 22 at 6 p.m. Zoom Link

The Art of Assemblage: Myth, Mystery and Spirituality centers upon the artistic practice of assemblage – artworks made of found objects – and questions of spirituality. It includes the work of four contemporary Maine artists: Abbie Read, David Matson, Sally Wagley, and Robert Katz. The artists employ diverse approaches to assemblage, and represent different spiritual traditions. The exhibition was organized by artist and UMA Professor of Art Robert Katz, and is on view from January 23 – March 8. The exhibition will include three public events: a gallery talk January 24, opening reception January 29, and a Zoom panel discussion February 22.

The Art of Assemblage: Myth, Mystery and Spirituality includes artists whose use of assemblage turns the bricolage of found and re-contextualized objects toward spiritual considerations. The exhibition is supported by an original essay by Dr. Aaron Rosen, Professor of Religion & Visual Culture and Director of the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts & Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary. In his essay, Dr. Rosen wrote, “The artists come from a range of religious traditions, from Katz’s Jewish upbringing in Brooklyn and continued study of Jewish sacred texts to David Matson’s vocation as an Episcopal parish priest. Despite such different spiritual journeys, the artists bring a similarly non-dogmatic, playful spirit to their works, sparking numerous interreligious parallels and dialogues along the way.”

Close up sculpture photo
David Matson, Heavenly Dispensation Bagatelle (detail). Video accessible on website, ©David Matson

In organizing The Art of Assemblage: Myth, Mystery and Spirituality, Professor Katz explained the impetus for the show: “I received a fellowship and was working with found objects that had been accumulating in my studio. As I began working in assemblage, I was interested in discussions I was having with people working and using similar materials as me.” Katz conceived of The Art of Assemblage as a public continuation of those conversations among artists. The exhibitions even include approximations of artists’ assemblage studios, bringing viewers into the creative process that reimagines miscellaneous things to create a new synthesis of objects, concepts, and even spiritual connection. Exhibiting artist David Matson explains, “When I became a priest, my prayer was that I may also be an artist. At the time, priest and artist seemed to stand at opposing poles. I have since come to believe that priest and artist fundamentally do the same thing: in either case, one stands on a threshold between the Worlds.”

The Art of Assemblage: Myth, Mystery and Spirituality will be on view in the Charles Danforth Gallery at the University of Maine at Augusta from January 23 – March 8, 2023. The Danforth Gallery is located in Jewett Hall, and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET. The artists will offer a gallery talk at noon on January 24. All are invited to an opening reception January 29 from 1-2:30 p.m., and to an all-virtual Zoom panel discussion February 22 at 6 p.m. ET.

The Charles Danforth Gallery at the University of Maine at Augusta

Named after a renowned artist and former faculty member at the University of Maine at Augusta, the Charles Danforth Gallery serves the UMA campus and the wider community of central Maine with rotating contemporary art exhibitions. Conceived as a living classroom, and used for lectures and other events, the gallery is a site for faculty, students, alumni and community members to engage with ideas, forms, and conversations in art. The gallery is open during regular business hours from September through May.

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Artist Biographies

Abbie Read

Abbie Owen Read grew up making art on the campus of Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, inspired and guided by her mother Sally, who was also an artist. Read attended Kirkland College, then Oberlin College, where she received a BA in Studio Art and Art History in 1978. From 1982 until 1989 she taught painting and printmaking at Concord Academy. Living in Ann Arbor, MI at the time, in 1991 she got her MFA in Mixed Media from the University of Michigan School of Art. She has exhibited widely and has works in numerous private collections. She has had her work in international exhibits in Doha, Qatar and Hong Kong through the Art In Embassies Program overseen by the State Department. In Maine she teaches workshops and makes art in her studio in Appleton where she lives with her husband Bart.

David Matson

David Matson seeks the interplay of the absurd and the meaningful as a part-time Episcopal priest and full-time artist.
His spiritual and artistic mentors are Jimi Hendrix and William Blake.

He lives in Readfield, Maine with his small family and decent-sized barn.

Sally Wagley

Sally Wagley, of Brunswick, Maine, works in multiple media, including drawing, stitching, collage/assemblage and text. She came to artwork later in life, after working as an elder and disability lawyer and caring for children and aging parents. Since 2012, she has exhibited at venues in Maine and New Hampshire, including two solo shows.
Sally’s fixation/obsession/preoccupation with visual images/ image-making began/originated with a visit to an art museum at age six, where she was both amazed and terrified by Renaissance paintings, with their depictions of scenes from the Bible, the lives of saints, and Greek myth. Her current work focuses on themes from those works, examining their relevance to contemporary life and ideas about gender and sexuality.

Robert Katz

Robert Katz’s sculptural installations often utilize a rich visual language to explore issues about personal identity and remembrance. His art reflects themes of exile, redemption and moral imperative.

His sculptures have been exhibited at the Jiangsu Chinese Art Academy in Nanjing, China; the Derfner Judaica Museum in Riverdale, New York; The Charter Oak Cultural Center, Connecticut, and his mixed media installation, The Five Books of Moses was recently installed at the List Visual Arts Center on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the designer of numerous Holocaust Memorials.

Katz has been the resident artist at the Seeds of Peace International Camp, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Poland. He has also been a guest speaker at international conferences in Poland and Israel. In addition, he was a guest artist at Oxford University and the Interfaith Programme at Cambridge University, England as well as the World Affairs Council, the Nexus Centre for the Humanities in Newfoundland and the Canadian Immigration Museum in Halifax.

Most recently, he led a team of designers to create The Welcome Table Project that commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This landscaped memorial has been funded by the Glickman-Lauder Foundation and will be constructed on the campus of the University of Maine at Augusta. He is also the recipient of the JAW Art Fellowship from the Amen Institute for which he created The Biblical Tableaux.

Katz grew up in Brooklyn New York and he earned his undergraduate degree from New York University. In 1973 he moved to Montana where he established a studio practice and where he received a MFA from the University of Montana. For the past forty years he has lived in central Maine. He is a Professor of Art at the University of Maine at Augusta and serves on the Board of Directors of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine.

Dr. Aaron Rosen

Dr. Aaron Rosen is Professor of Religion & Visual Culture and Director of the Luce Center for the Arts and Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. and Visiting Professor at King’s College London, where he taught previously. He began his career at Yale, Oxford, and Columbia, after receiving his PhD from Cambridge. He has curated exhibitions around the world and directs the Parsonage Gallery, exploring ecology and spirituality. He is the author or editor of many books, including What Would Jesus See?, Art and Religion in the 21st Century, and Journey through Art, translated into seven languages.