Early Dumpster Diving Indicates a Future of Skulls and Watch Parts

Bobbie Polizzi and a few of her friends.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

Bobbie Polizzi, who brands her work as “Junk & Disorderly,” moved to WNC in 1997 as a product-design executive for a manufacturing company. She’s now retired from 9-5 life, and for the past seven years, she’s devoted herself to assembling art from reclaimed, repurposed objects.

How’d you get turned on to art?

My mother was an artist and she encouraged me. Except when I dug into her ferns.

What does digging into ferns have to do with art?

I would build little villages in the garden, from leaves and twigs.

How did that creativity carry into adulthood?

I worked at the Art Hotel in Hollywood, where all of the clients were from the music industry. I oversaw the art for Prince’s Purple Rain album and the 1984 tour book for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Michael Jackson came in for conferences. And the pot lady came every afternoon.

Photo by Rachel Pressley

Delivering marijuana, not kitchen utensils?

It was an interesting place. Then I became a vice president for creatives, for a company that manufactured all over the world. I was always visiting factories and loved the process of how things were made. 

So instead of becoming an assembly-line worker you became an assemblage artist?

A company I was working for went belly up, and that freed me to really explore art again. I started right off with skulls and wheels and watch parts. 

And you’ve been known to dumpster dive for art supplies?

My dumpster diving started when I was seven or eight years old, cruising around the neighborhood with my little red wagon on trash day. I was after anything I could take apart and put back together. There was a print shop where I found paper I’d bring home to use for art.

But were you disorderly?

I can tell you a story. One day I got called into the kitchen by my parents, whose faces were aflame. They were holding cards I made for them, and my father said, “Where did you get these?” and I told him I made them. My mother asked, “Did you make any others?” I told her, “Yes, for my aunts and the Sisters at Catholic school.”

Why would they be upset about that?

On the back was printed a picture of Napoleon, but instead of his hand in his vest, he was holding his penis. I didn’t know, I was seven and didn’t pay any attention to that. To me it was just free art paper.

What inspires your “Junk & Disorderly” creations today?

My work usually starts with a thing, an item, that inspires the idea. When you do assemblage art, you never look at things the same way again. 

TOP LEFT: Zelda and Zoe; BOTTOM LEFT: The Queen’s Huntsman; RIGHT: Catacomb Queens
Photos by Rachel Pressley

How so?

You tend to look at what it could be, not what it is.

What are you working on these days?

I do bejeweled skulls. Made from small plastic ones. But now I’m working with a life-sized skull cast from a real skull.

And where did you go to get a real skull?

Oh, I have my sources.

Bobbie Polizzi working in her at-home studio.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

Bobbie Polizzi is represented by The Gallery at Flat Rock (2702-A Greenville Hwy., Flat Rock, galleryflatrock.com, 828-698-7000) and at Miya Gallery (20 North Main St., Weaverville, miyagallery.com, 828-658-9655). She can be contacted through either gallery or by Facebook, and will participate in the “Artists Exposed” event at the Gallery at Flat Rock December 1 from 11am-5pm. Artists will be doing live demonstrations with an emphasis on holiday gifts. 

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