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Andrea Overturf repurposes junk, old dolls, ephemera into art

Andrea Overturf is a symphony musician. But, that didn’t satisfy her creativity — so, she started making multimedia sculptures: upcycling things that many people might consider junk. Now her hobby has become a second career and now Overturf is one of the official Represented Artists whose work is on display at The Studio Door in Hillcrest.

"Only (I) would get a delivery backstage of doll parts at a concert," Overturf said, as she carefully unwrapped dismembered porcelain doll limbs. Those doll parts then ended up in her studio, also known as the "Morgue."

"There's usually doll parts laying everywhere, and just various disembodied toys and heads and whatnot. So, I guess it's kind of unofficially the 'Morgue,'" Overturf said with a smile.

Andrea Overturf
This is one of the pieces that made Beth Accomando fall in love with Andrea Overturf's art.

Needless-to-say, I feel in love with Overturf’s art the moment I saw it. It would fit right in "The Addams Family" living room, embodying the creepy, but kooky, in the most deliciously wicked way. Her multimedia, three-dimensional sculptures often have doll heads or limbs grafted onto typewriters or peering out from cabinets. There’s a sense of life and movement to her pieces, as if inviting us to set them in motion like an elaborate Rube Goldberg device.

"I think that her work is for the curious," said Patric Stillman, owner of The Studio Door. "I mean, upon looking at it, you think: 'What is this? Where did it come from? What kind of world does this creature live in?' I think it's really for the inquisitive mind."


Andrea Overturf
Artist Andrea Overturf likes to upcycle items she finds at the swap meet or at thrift stores.

Overturf said she grew up in a home that was like Pee-wee’s Playhouse with a mother whose artistry inspired her. Overturf was also inspired by Roald Dahl's old TV anthology show called "Way Out" — specifically an episode called "Sideshow" where there was a "freak" named Cassandra, the Electric Woman.

"She is 100% a human body in a dress, and she's chained to an electric chair and has this giant light bulb for a head," Overturf said. "And so, that image really stuck with me."

Andrea Overturf
Andrea Overturf considers this her COVID piece because she felt like a songless, wingless bird during the pandemic.

And its an image that informs a lot of her work to her audience, where the mechanical is mixed with something human or animal.

 "She'll take little parts of things and create something new out of it," Stillman said. "They might be parts of an electrical box or even old-fashioned light fixtures and light bulbs. And so all of these kind of components are assembled together to create this sort of fierce, curious creature. But, I like to say that it's not so much about a dark and a grim side of things. It's more about a fierce and humorous side of things, which, I think is really exceptional for her type of art."

Andrea Overturf
One of Andrea Overturf's sculptures.

Her art is inspired by the things around her, so her house is filled with toys, strange beasts, rusty box springs and a closet full of items lovingly curated from the swap meet or randomly donated to her by friends and strangers.

"Even when I moved into my current home, the construction workers saw my pieces, and they brought a broken clock to me because they said 'we found this and we think you would like it,'" Overturf said.

She loved how the gesture adds meaning to her art. But these items or sourced pieces can sit around for years as she waits for that "a-ha" moment.

Andrea Overturf
When Andrea Overturf saw this antique typewriter she knew immediately what she wanted to make but sometimes source pieces sit around for years before she actually uses them.

"There's this moment that happens sometimes, where I see that — though they're two totally disparate items — they look like they just belong together. I'm not just forcing two items and just tacking them together ... they look like they belong together," Overturf said.

It's like the parts worthy of a marriage, because so much of her art feels like living, breathing things that form a relationship. These are not inanimate objects. They all have a personality and she’s the matchmaker that brings them together. It’s a playful process.

Holding small black tentacles and a scuba-diving baby doll, she stands over the bed of a toy truck.

"I had these tentacles that are supposed to be for your fingers," Overturf said as she pondered the pieces in front of her. "And then I think it's kind of whimsical and cool to have these little scuba men, so you have this giant scuba-diving baby with these kind of Gulliver’s Travels type stuff." 

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Andrea Overturf
Andrea Overturf refers to this piece as "Maneater."

As she played with tentacles or attaches a victim to a piece called "Maneater," she acknowledged that some people see her work as having a dark aesthetic.

"But for me, that's usually just kind of what I find humorous or beautiful. I have a dark sense of humor," Overturf said. "I just tend to gravitate towards things like that. And I think those things are beautiful and funny."

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Andrea Overturf
Two of Andrea Overturf's sculptures that are currently on display at The Studio Door in Hillcrest.

Indeed they were. But you can decide for yourself by checking out Overturf’s art at The Studio Door in Hillcrest. She is one of the Represented Artists whose works will remain on display through the first half of the year.

I cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.
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