Here you will find a small sampling of my 3-dimensional works - known as "Assemblages” (aka - “found object” art). For many years this was the main focus of my Design business and I have sold over 250 of these as of 2010. I have an entire portfolio and resume of regional shows, galleries, and awards available upon request.

Assemblages are essentially a 3-d version of collage, incorporating wood, metal, paper, fabric, castings, etc.  Almost anything can be combined to tell an interesting and unusual story.  In the arrangement of unconventional materials & objects many amusing/amazing ideas can be developed.  At 2 very distinct junctures in my "career" I thought I was concluding with this art format. I actually liquidated my studio in order to reduce the ballast of materials that are needed to pursue this type of work. (Of course I stowed away some of the best little items... just in case...)  Low & behold, I keep returning to this process & end up recollecting more materials as needed!  It sometimes provides a lovely reprieve from sitting too long at the computer! 

Though I always realized that my inclination towards this 3-d format stemmed from a love of antiques, recycling, and quirkiness, I have recently come to understand that it has a deeper spiritual significance.  It seems a fitting metaphor to retrieve and reconfigure that which has been cast off and "broken".  As many unrelated items come together to tell a larger story, it is clearly an example of "synergy", that "the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts".  There is an inherent poetry in the brokenness of this world, and our longing to be whole again. I believe our Father Yahveh sees and guides us through this process.

I have created several series over the years, pieces with recurring themes and titles.  One of my favorites uses the words "Ad Astra Per Aspera".  It is the Kansas state motto, and translates as - “To the stars with difficulties” (or “by hard ways”).  I also have enjoyed creating series that depict Scientists/Astronomers of the past such as Archimedes, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton, juxtaposed with parts from old erector set, wrenches, rulers, etc.  They are whimsical allusions to "Ad Astra yearnings” with a "string and sealing wax" kind of style.  Since I have a deep and abiding interest in mathematics, linguistics, symbolism, and science, I tend to incorporate it whenever I can.

Having exhibited my work since 1995 in solo, group, and juried shows, including regional Fine Art Events, it has always been my hope that, small or large, each Assemblage stimulates great conversation and curiosity.  Recently, I have returned to KC after tracing a triangular journey thru Lawrence, Baldwin City, and back.  I am a long ago graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute (1980) with a BFA in Design & Illustration.

In 2006/07 I was commissioned by Baker University (in Baldwin City, KS) to create a large multi-media installation, commemorating their 150th anniversary. The primary 4' x 8' assemblage is permanently installed in the Collins Library, lower level, and is open to the public to view. There were also 5 mid sized pieces for campus departments.  The palette of materials consisted of historical images from yearbooks, various memorabilia donated for the project, castings and other fun stuff from the library archives.

You can read more about this project at:


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Excerpt from: "Art Works With Titles" – a collaborative, traveling, 2 year educational exhibition, that I participated in with a group of Kansas Artists:

"While it may be timelessly true that 'a picture is worth a thousand words', who can deny that a certain pleasure, a certain intimacy, can occur between the artist and the viewer when the few extra words of the title enter into the experience as a whole.  In fact, the lack of a title for certain types of art works is similar to the frustration of not finding the lyrics included with a musical recording.  It does not bother everyone, but for those of us who want clarity from the artist about the verbal content, it can be a terrible disappointment.  Of course, I am really only referring to and concerned about titles acting as a very creative element... just the thing a literate animal craves after tasting a pure visual experience.   A bit of sequential information to guide one’s way thru an image jungle, and can give you the feeling of  "…Oh,… I can see that now".  Sometimes, it is the opportunity to confirm just how strange an artist thinks, because you suspected it somehow.  An artist knows when a title was not part of the creation process.  It becomes a ridiculous extra labor to invent one.

A title is often the inspiration for my own Assemblage work.  It can fuel my creative process when trying to combine elements of texture, color, dimensionality, and a sense of story.  I particularly love a poetic title, the kind that may stay on your mind as long as a powerful work of art might, especially when the words are actually a part of the piece.  Maybe it's the feeling of a temporarily private message, whispered in your mind's ear... It's offered, you accept (with your own personal response), and then you may even want to talk about it.  This message can be used to refer to the artwork, calling it by name!  The nomenclature of titles... an irresistible love of naming things." – Karen Jacks (1997)

The Assemblage piece above depicts an old famous guy ... Archimedes (Mathematician & Inventor). His discovery of the relationship between the surface and volume of a sphere, & it's circumscribing cylinder (i.e. the pi connection) led to his invention of the water screw (a mechanical device for moving water uphill). It is uncertain whether he made or understood the type of functional screws we use today, but it is surely a "spin off".

Assemblage Art

assemblage  n. ..."the fitting together of parts and pieces."

Although, currently I am focusing more & more of my time on Design & Illustration,

I still accept some commission Assemblage work.  In some cases the 3-d work can actually be photographed and used for print media application.


© 2010 Karen Jacks • All Rights Reserved