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LA Hughes painting detail

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LA Hughes woven collage

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Pop artist Lenore Arame Tolegian Hughes

View LA Hughes 2001 Exhibition
at New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine

LA HUGHES: I weave landmark, pop culture images from Hollywood, from product packaging materials & from everyday household goods into religious icons. All my understanding of the here-and-now comes from the juxtaposition of the past to the present as we live it.

LA Hughes woven collage Carried Away

Click to view detail.

LA HUGHES: I see the little squares, (or boxes or pixels), in my woven work as the box of the TV set--the single pop image that influences me most. To me, the computer screen is simply an extension of that TV image.

detail of  LA Hughes collage Hero Sandwich

LA HUGHES: One of my favorite recent finds was an empty package from Marvel toys. On the back of the package were a list of all the "action superheroes"; they were all men--Dr.Octopus, Dr. Dread, Hulk, Spider-Man, Venon, DareDevil, Capt. America, Punisher and one woman who was named: The Invisible Woman. (This triggered all sorts of ideas!) I wove her image--and her title--into pieces such as "Hero Sandwich"--the collage with the superheroes interwoven with a 1950's image of a jelly sandwich on white bread.

LA Hughes woven collage Hero Sandwich

Click to see full image.

LA Hughes word and image collage

LA HUGHES: I use anything in my work that reflects what is going on today, and I combine it with what still holds power from the past. As a child, I used to tear out pictures of images such as the Sistine Chapel from magazines.

LA HUGHES word & image collage Oops

LA HUGHES: I also intertwine or overlay readily recognized traditional religious images--Michaelangelo's Creation from the Sistine ceiling or Botticelli's Birth of Venus or early Renaissance madonnas--with words or imagery from popular culture.

Lenore Hughes collage Small Wonder

LA HUGHES: Some of my Virgin Mary's are from photographs taken on vacation in the Italian countryside--from old churches in little villages. I've also used holy cards in the books I was given as a child by the nuns in the hospital where my mother was a nurse.

LA Hughes collage SmallWonder

LA HUGHES: My art is a process of creation, destruction and recreation. It's a search for connections. This intricate physical layering of images helps me make sense of today. This weaving process simultaneously reveals and conceals a new reality. I call the process "reframing".

border detail of Hughes collage

LA HUGHES: Some of my collage paintings use a carpet-like compositional structure. As an Armenian woman, I see the middle eastern carpet as a metaphor for many things e.g: being used as a doormat, or being seen as a possession. I draw border images, such as chains, to reflect the role of women in the past as contrasted with the role of women today. We can be chained to the past or we can break the chains.

Chain, lamb, lipstick & joy border detail from Carried Away

LA HUGHES: I also use the lamb symbol in the watercolor collages. Since Old Testament times, the lamb has been a sacrificial symbol. I see the lamb as a sacrificial symbol for women who (like God) create children whose pain they must observe and endure.

LA HUGHES: As a child, I used to create all sorts of Pop art. My parents had no idea this was art; so I created and they tossed. When I eventually saw Warhol, I finally had affirmation that there was a school of art other than the classical style. Since then I have spent my entire life exploring the work of artists whose interest in color, content and exploration of human feeling in their art was paramount: Gorky (my Armenian hero), Oldenburg, Rauschenberg, Noland, Ruscha, Kandinsky & Goya.

Lenore Hughes collage Angel Shoes

Hughes watercolor collage Angel Shoes

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WHAT THE CRITICS SAY: "It is perhaps milder blasphemy than Robert Gober's Mary-piercing conduit pipe or Andres Serrano's even more notorious pee-dunked crucifixion; but like these, Hughes' collaged iconostasis is meant not to give offense to the Creator, but to question people's understanding of the holy, and how that understanding embraces the world around them--and to generate lively, solidly constructed collages in the process."
--Peter Frank L.A. Weekly 3.06.99

LA HUGHES: There is so much accepted in our culture that demands discussion. Mass media suggests riches, power, cash, fame, redemption, eternity & other consuming desires--offers we can't refuse. Working with so much pop imagery, I see the struggles within the sub-cultures of pop culture; I express that struggle in my work.

hughes money painting

LA Hughes watercolor collage To Die For

LA HUGHES: Currency has as many meanings as there are people to muse about it: Money (like God?) is necessary, fun, obscure, painful, tantalizing, powerful, remote and to die for.

hughes money painting

LA Hughes Pop painting Go Forth...

LA HUGHES: It is referred to as scratch, greenbacks, smackers, loot bread, dough, dinero, mazulla, moolah, megabucks and do re mi. Money is what dreams are made of.

LA HUGHES: I exhibit my art in galleries as well as in less traditional venues for contemporary art. The Dean of the Cathedral of St. Paul in San Diego told me that my show there attracted many people who would not normally come into a church. My work pulls people in and makes them think.

LA Hughes watercolor collage Hurrah

LA HUGHES: My work seeks to worship the new icons by marrying them with the old. It is in this new reality that I hope to leave the viewer with a new understanding in the struggle for meaning.


View LA Hughes collages and paintings offered for sale in
BIDDINGTON'S Contemporary Art Gallery.
Price Range: $300 to $5,500

LENORE HUGHES Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2001, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, NY
2000, 1999 Bob Menifee Gallery, Palm Springs, CA
1999, 1997, 1995 David Zapf Gallery, San Diego, CA
1998 Judson Studios Art Gallery, Pasadena, CA
1997 "Icons Reframed", Cathedral Church of St.Paul, San Diego, CA
1996 "madonna@grace", Grace Cathedral Courtyard Gallery, San Francisco, CA

LENORE HUGHES Selected Group Exhibitions:
1997 Athenaeum Library, La Jolla, CA
1993 Artists' Guild Juried Show, San Diego Museum of Art, CA
1993-1997 Art Alive, San Diego Museum of Art, CA
1992-1996 Art in Bloom, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA
1990 ART LIFE Magazine 10th Anniversary Exhibit,
Momentum Gallery (Ventura, CA), Rizzoli Bookstore (NYC), Milan Art Center (Milan, Italy), P3 Alternative Museum (Tokyo, Japan)


CREATIVE PROCESS at Biddington's is designed as a forum for watching art in the making. Usually, this process happens in the privacy of the artist's studio. At BIDDINGTON'S Contemporary Art Gallery & upmarket, online art & antiques auction--we find it interesting to witness the steps leading to the end product and to hear the artists speak about their work in the relaxed surroundings of their own studios.

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