About Robert Villamagna
I create mixed-media, assemblage, and metal works, in my
West Virginia studio. When not in the studio, I am usually
on the road hunting for ephemera, printed metal, and mis-
cellaneous “junk” at flea markets and antique fairs.
My metal and mixed media works have been
exhibited at multiple museums and galleries throughout
the United States. I was honored to be named the 2016
West Virginia Artist of the Year.
I create assemblages, metal collages, and mixed media works, primarily using found objects and repurposed lithographed metal. This printed metal, or “tin”, comes from deconstructed product containers and old signage. The themes or narratives found in my work come from my own life experiences, music, pieces of overheard conversations, as well as stories that the found objects and materials themselves may suggest.
I grew up in the Ohio River rustbelt. From the time I was a preschooler I have had a mark-making tool in my hand. However, the rustbelt, in general, is not a supportive environment for one who wishes to make art his life’s work. Growing up, almost every adult male in our neighborhood was a steel worker, miner or other blue collar worker. Although I tried hard to avoid it, I ended up working in the steel mill myself. I went into the mill for two years, but it took me eleven more years to figure a way to get out. However, even during those years, I had a fire in my belly for making art.
I am very passionate about working with found materials, especially those items that show use, wear and rust. I love stuff with character. I often find myself wondering about the person who made these materials, who used them, who held them. I like to think that a part or energy of that person is still contained in these things, and now it’s transferred into the artwork. I’m giving that discarded piece of metal, or that old object, a new life, a different life. I am thrilled that I can use this stuff and that it becomes a part of my creative process. These various materials are every bit as much of my palette as is a tray of oils are for a painter. For me, walking through a flea market is like walking through a well-stocked art materials store. The flea market is my palette.