Anacostia Artist Makes Old New Again (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Anacostia Artist Makes The Old New Again

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:03
We'll wrap up today's show in Southeast D.C. where one artist is breathing new life into old stuff. 30 year-old Amber Robles-Gordon lives and works out of her apartment in Anacostia, where she does what's known as assemblage. Basically incorporating everyday objects into an artistic composition. The objects can be simple as swatches of fabric or as unexpected as say, a set of matchbox cars. Robles-Gordon's latest work is on display this month in Anacostia's Honfleur Gallery. Emily Friedman went to meet the artist and brings us this story.

MS. AMBER ROBLES-GORDON

00:00:37
So we are in my home/studio, my studio/home.

MS. EMILY FRIEDMAN

00:00:42
Amber Robles-Gordon has a lot of stuff. Fabric in every color you can imagine.

ROBLES-GORDON

00:00:47
Then you have shells here.

FRIEDMAN

00:00:50
She has beads...

ROBLES-GORDON

00:00:51
Hemp.

FRIEDMAN

00:00:51
...wires, curlers, marbles...

ROBLES-GORDON

00:00:53
Little miniature ducks.

FRIEDMAN

00:00:55
...and much, much more. But this is not an episode of "Hoarders." The walls are lined with clear plastic boxes, some big, some tiny and they're stacked from floor to ceiling.

ROBLES-GORDON

00:01:06
I do my best to keep them order. It doesn't always happen.

FRIEDMAN

00:01:09
For the most part Robles-Gordon says she remembers where everything came from, whether it was from a thrift shop or her own closet. Take for example, her piece "Every Fiber of My Being," which is also the name of the gallery's exhibit. It's an oval about the size of a hula hoop and it's covered with netting and carefully laid strips of fabric. It looks kind of like a looped potholder only more elaborate.

ROBLES-GORDON

00:01:34
I don't know if that's a tiger or leopard print whatever it is. I used to have a jacket that was printed like that. This is from a purse that I had. This is part of a pair of sweatpants that I used to have and wear.

FRIEDMAN

00:01:45
And in the same way she remembers where every piece came from Robles-Gordon says she also remembers the feeling wearing each item, why she bought it, where she wore it and though the viewer doesn't have a relationship with that same pair of sweatpants, Robles-Gordon says they can still make an emotional impact.

ROBLES-GORDON

00:02:02
I also think it taps into your own memory, the viewer's own memory of a bracelet or this belt looks like one I had, you know, that had Strawberry Shortcake on it and remembers me of that best friend I had.

FRIEDMAN

00:02:16
Intentionally recycling came about more recently in her life but turns out she was doing it long before going green was trendy.

ROBLES-GORDON

00:02:24
I remember when I was younger I used to be one of those kids where you walked around and you were the one that always found something like the pretty one earring. It's funny I always remember thinking wow I'm lucky, you know, to find these little things and to really then being able to associate value to them, that they were valuable even though it was just one earring. I used to keep those things.

FRIEDMAN

00:02:46
She could tell these things were still valuable and as she got older and started doing assemblage these sorts of trinkets found their way onto the canvas. Robles-Gordon's work is predominantly interested in the female experience and though there are neckties incorporated into the works there's a whole lot more lace and bras, lots and lots of bras.

ROBLES-GORDON

00:03:08
Yes, all the different lace, the colors. Do you know how many shades there are of bras? Doggone it I just think they're beautiful.

FRIEDMAN

00:03:14
Plus she adds what else are you going to do with an old bra? Why not rip it apart, use the fabric and give it a new life as art. I'm Emily Friedman.

SHEIR

00:03:24
The exhibit "With Every Fiber of My Being" is at the Honfleur Gallery now through the end of April. You can find links to the gallery's site and photos of Amber Robles-Gordon's work at metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

00:04:10
And that's "Metro's Connection for this week. We heard from WAMU's Emily Friedman, Jessica Gould, Martin DiCaro and Kavitha Cardoza along with reporter Jessica Polombo. Our acting news director is Meymo Lyons. Tara Boyle is our managing producer. Lauren Landau is our editorial assistant. Our intern is Alex Patlis. Jonna McKone, Lauren Landau, Heather Taylor and Alex Patlis produce "Door To Door." Thanks, as always, to the WAMU engineering and digital media teams for their help with production and the "Metro Connection" website.

SHEIR

00:04:38
Our theme song, ''Every Little Bit Hurts,'' and our ''Door To Door'' theme "No Girl" are from the album "Title Tracks" by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. You can see all the music we use on our website, metroconnection.org. Just click on an individual story and you'll find information about its accompanying song. Also on metroconnection.org you can find our Twitter link, our Facebook link. You can read free transcripts of stories and if you happened to miss part of today's show or you want to listen to any of our recent shows, just click the podcast link up at the top of the page.

SHEIR

00:05:07
You also can sign up for our podcasts on iTunes. We hope you'll join us next week when we'll be taking risks. We'll visit the site of a deadly drag race to find out what's been done to improve safety. We'll explore the so-called folly that helps transform DuPont Circle from farm-like to fashionable and we'll meet some local entrepreneurs who aren't afraid to put all their kernels in one basket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ONE

00:05:30
Popcorn has been around forever, but we saw that, hey, there's no popcorn company in D.C., so let's go for it.

SHEIR

00:05:37
I'm Rebecca Sheir, thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 news.
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