Meet Amy Hart
On some level, I've always worked with what was discarded. When I was little, my mom would work on her porcelain dolls, and I’d take the pieces of slip that fell to the ground and make faces. My mom would humor me and fire them and encouraged me to paint and finish them. One day I wore one to school, and when the librarian asked me if she could buy the piece, I started to get it: people wanted things I made. And they were willing to pay for them.
One day I went to a doll club meeting with my mom, and the presentation was on making teddy bears. I started right away — just making them for myself — but the offers to purchase started coming. With my mom’s help, we made and sold enough bears to buy a horse and saddle.
Later in life, while I was studying art at Syracuse University, my mother was going through a tough divorce from my father. She had a closet full of vintage clothes she had purchased over the years. While volunteering at a local thrift store, she’d buy Jackie Kennedy-era brocades and over-the-top faux fur jackets. Occasionally they even held a stuff-the-shopping-bag-for-$1 sale, and the time came when she didn't know what to do with all of the clothes she had collected. We decided to cut them up and sew hats for me sell on campus, and we sold every last one of them. Someone came up to me and said, "This is exactly what Betsey Johnson did when she went to school here.” ! Well clearly, I'm not Betsey Johnson, ... but I get it!
Most of my time now is spent working on found metal sculpture. Occasionally I'll take a commercial design job because I love the challenge, but my heart is happiest when I'm in the studio creating one-of-a-kind artwork. After a lifetime of making it happen, I truly believe that everything old is new. We can all find a new purpose for ourselves when we think our shelf life has expired and our edges worn. I spy a shape in something, and it changes the way i look at that object ... and the world.
Who is Amy?
When I was growing up in rural Upstate New York, my father (who, by the way, was a surgeon) was too cheap to pay for garbage collection. As a young kid, I would hop into an old orange Chevy truck once a week (with NO shocks) along with my mother and brother and head to the dump. All the way there, we'd sing (to the tune of “The Lone Ranger”) ...To the dump, to the dump, to the dump dump dump, etc., while my mom and brother unloaded the truck. I got to search and discover. I'd bring home plastic pieces and invent games; there were limitless treasures there.
It also stunk and there were too many flies.
I majored in jewelry design and surface/textile design and earned my BFA. After school I worked in product design for a variety of manufacturers ... Hallmark, York Wall Covering, Springs Industries …. I loved all of these jobs and loved watching my products being mass produced and sold in stores. BUT, all the while, I was saving wallpaper to wrap presents, sewing with the fabric that was being thrown out from the front end of a pattern strike off machine, etc., and generally collecting what I could and creating with it.
Along the way I learned to weld, and kept picking up pieces of metal on the side of the road, garage sales, thrift stores, and eventually, junkyards and pull-a-part lots.
And I hope that someday I am an old woman still looking at buttons at the flea market and discarded metal pieces on the street corner.
Am I the only one? Or do you also get butterflies on trash day? :)