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Junker Jane brings the 'creep factor' to reclaimed art

Old things have a character that is unmatched, says artist Junker Jane

strange dolls by artist Junker Jane

Junker Jane's creations. Photo: supplied

Junker Jane, aka Catherine Zacchino, works out of the creative hotbed of Portland, Oregon, in the United States. Since 2007, she has made striking and spooky mixed-media monster dolls from found objects and fabrics.

Once sewn together, they are revived and reborn, as weird, wonky and wonderful characters – with new stories informed by the past lives of the materials…

How do found, discarded or disused objects or materials shape your art?

When I was a kid I would tag along with my mom to antique or junk shops. This probably gave me an appreciation and love for old things. I am attracted to tattered old things that look like they may belong in a haunted house.

Overall, my art tends to have a creep factor because I have always loved the supernatural and unexplained.

I love to incorporate old frayed fabrics and old buttons. Sometimes all it takes is a small discarded item to inspire an entire doll. 

Is there a philosophy behind the use of the materials you repurpose your art?

I think old things have a character that is unmatched and add soul to my creations that can’t really be recreated. I feel that making do with limited supplies (used items) only inspires me more. There is something about old things that brings soul into a new creation. As if it has brought all its past lives with it.

Junker Jane's voodoo doll
Junker Jane’s voodoo doll

And is there a particular piece that you think best showcases your ideas?

I really love the voodoo doll I created from a bamboo plant root (right). I found this dried root in my backyard and was immediately drawn to its creepiness. I used it as the base for the doll so that it looks like lots of weird little legs. I also used lace that I picked up in a thrift store.

Can you apply your ideas around your art and reusing material to the wider world- whether that is in terms of the environment or other ways?

For sure. There is so much production and waste in the world. Reusing what is already out there in new and creative ways is a huge benefit.

Find out more about Junker Jane here: junkerjane.blogspot.com 

This article is part of an art special edition of The Big Issue, curated by My Dog Sighs and featuring his exclusive artwork on the cover. It is on the streets from 10 July. Find your local vendor here. Throughout the week we will be sharing more stories from creatives, explorers and activists who are reclaiming the lost. Read those stories here.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.To support our work buy a copy!

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