Force in the River (1996),
copper, plaster, objects, acrylic on wood
THE TERM "assemblage," coined by the French painter Jean Dubuffet in the 1950s to describe works of art constructed from everyday objects, best locates Margaretha Bootsma's planer and three-dimensional art. What separates Bootsma from myriad other junk sculptors and collagists is an eagle eye and a feeling for materials of subtle colouration and fluent surface. This talent has unfolded not only from her formal art training, but from an industrial and physical experience in a broader world that creates and disintegrates its own textures, hues and objects without thought of ulterior significance.
Bootsma's wall sculptures are of course more than attractive surfaces, earthy or suddenly ennobeled metals, fragments of organic nature: to her. Their conjunction often suggests parables of human import and testaments of transcendental resilience. In her hands, it turns out, nothing material is inherently ugly.
Restrained in actual sgraffito and mark-making, Bootsma just as often will affix a single contrasting shape or colour to stand in for drawing. Thoughts aside are occasionally treated in niches which starkly emphasize the push-pull of natural process and human endeavor. Unlike the Japanese tokonoma (a niche in a dwelling which contains a reminder of unfettered nature) Bootsma's niches, cut in nurtured fields of oxidation and encrustation, may frame jettizoned hardware, a Madonna and Child, or a drift-ravaged stick.
© Ted Lindberg