At a Sun Valley junkyard brimming with obsolete aircraft parts, broadcasting gear and electronic pieces sold as scrap metal, Monica Wyatt is on the prowl.
She’s combing through the rusty and the dusty at Apex recycling in search of elements to compose her next masterpiece. Wyatt turns stuff we toss out into sculptural masterpieces that can sell for $20,000 or more.
“What I love to do is find materials that have just been discarded or overlooked or abandoned and recombine them and give them a new life,” she told CBS2’s Amber Lee, who headed out in the Toyota Mobile Weather Lab to Wyatt’s studio in the Studio City Hills.
She showed Lee a piece she calls “What You Left Behind,” which started with a discarded pipe on the side of the road. On the inside, she dangled lenses from old track lighting and then topped it with a junkyard treasure: “Thousands and thousands of twisted together little capacitors.”
Wyatt uses household discards to create family gifts. A piece she made for her husband for their 12th anniversary includes a woman wearing a dress made of “very fine bubble wrap.”
She also showed us a piece called “Handle With Care,” which is a statement about the “fragility of our planet.”
Wyatt’s technique is called assemblage sculpture. She assembles the old to create something new. Her pieces come small and large and have sold for upwards of $20,000.
Of all the STEAM disciplines — science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics — assemblage relies mostly on art and engineering.
“There’s the constant question of how do I connect these elements. How do I want to it supported. What will the gravitational pull be on it,” she says.
Wyatt says assemblage is cheap to pursue and open to everyone. She got her own start making shadow boxes.
“There are some wonderful things you can do with your old toys in terms of putting them in a box.”
Her work includes a discarded TV set filled with old light bulbs.
“Once you sort of think outside the box you can do some great things with your box.”
Wyatt’s advice to aspiring assemblage sculptors is give it a try.
“I’m constantly putting things together and if it’s not working, I take it apart,” she says. “Don’t let the process of creating art intimidate you. Just go for it and have fun.”
Wyatt spends very little money on materials. But her pieces can take hundreds of hours to complete — that’s why they can cost so much.