Molten Power of Metal: AbOmInOg
The AbOmInOg Intl. Arts Collective harnesses the molten power of metal to create one-of-a-kind art and sculpture. The collective members support each other through the creative process, create exhibitions, and spread the skills of metalwork to a new generation. Founding member MC Reiley took time to tell us about the collective's upcoming work.
What does the name of your collective refer to?
The AbOmInOg is the name of the furnace. It can melt iron, has its own persona and is the star of the show. The casting process is dramatic and kick ass, and so we named it appropriately. We welcome a diverse group of artists from the area and from all over the world.
How do most artists get started in metalwork?
I started off tinkering with found metal objects and eventually decided that tinkering wasn't sufficient for my artistic expression. I completed an apprenticeship in a foundry where I acquired the knowledge and learned techniques. A number of our founding collective members have a similar experience. We connected through our love of casting metal, especially iron.
I helped build "the AbOmInOg" and have become the keeper of the flame, but we all work together. We all help out by sharing knowledge, techniques, resources, critical discourse, and friendship to make each other's sculptures. We cast molten iron as recently as last weekend. It's arduous and potentially hazardous work that requires skillful choreography, concentration, and cooperation.
What are the benefits of working as a collective?
The challenges and nuances of the techniques of the foundry process require a lot of physical involvement. It is a mind bender how much technical information you need to know for making decisions about methodologies, materials, and so forth. This is especially true with our collective as we work to make each others' creations a reality. We are a resource for each other. On the organizational front, we've seen the benefits associated with social media - the more people who are involved, the more people who can benefit. As a collective force, we can better seek funding sources, grow our outreach, inform, involve, and create value for people.
How do you involve the general public in your work?
We have a tight group that is ever increasing. There's a word of mouth among this group of craftspeople and metalworkers. We value periodically involving the public in our activities. As AbOmInOg Intl. workshop participants, artists of all levels get a forum for artistic expression, a sense of accomplishment and an understanding of this ancient - but pertinent - technological process that you don't see every day.
One great example is an upcoming event on November 5th at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. It's a wonderful opportunity to create an artwork in one day out of iron. Visitors can take part in a kid-friendly scratch mold workshop and then safely experience an iron pour afterwards. We use close supervision, employing personal protective equipment, bullhorns, barricades and signage to assure a maximally safe environment. This event is in tandem with an exhibition in which a number of artists from our collective are included. Visitors can attend the workshop and then see the work of our collective.
How has working with Fractured Atlas helped you?
Being involved with Fractured Atlas has helped us create a sort of scaffold for the organization - to visualize where we are going, how to make operations sustainable, how to touch as many people as we can. It's shown us resources to help us adapt, grow, and expand our reach. The nuts and bolts of managing donations and offering tax-deductible receipts have helped our fundraising, especially with in-kind donations. Fractured Atlas has also helped us provide event insurance and to identify resources, opportunities, and foundations for grants.
There are other organizations in our area, like Artworks Trenton, that have expressed interest in working with us. We are planning to curate a show to exhibit in their space in downtown Trenton, as well as regularly participating in the Art All Night event. Personally, I am planning a mid-career exhibit at my studio as a "dry run" for the gallery and sculpture garden circuit. That's a goal that many of the collective share - we can help each succeed in our careers through positive inertia.
Images courtesy of MC Reiley and Marcia de la Garza.