One of the fairy dolls that’s on display at the Merrymeeting Arts Center created by Audrey Luce. Merrymeeting Art Center

A new exhibit at the Merrymeeting Arts Center in Bowdoinham shows the beauty and possibilities that can be found in everyday objects that have been discarded.

The exhibit, “Salvaged Magic” features colorful fairy dolls composed out of found items like stones, sticks, metal, wood, seeds, bone, feathers, and shells the artist, Audrey Luce, has collected. The sculptures capture the energy and motion of creatures in the wild while also exemplifying how new life can be given to discarded items we don’t use anymore.

Audrey Luce, a resident of Saco, creates fairy dolls from found items Merrymeeting Bay Art Center

A bartender and waitress by profession, Luce has been making fairy dolls for 25 years now. “When I first started, I used polymer clay to make these dolls, but since the last 15 years I have been using sticks to make them look realistic,” said Luce.

Luce mentioned, she has loved art in all its forms since she was a child.

“About 13 years ago when I moved from a small beachside town in Maine to the wilds of Jersey City Heights, it was a change to say the very least. To help my transition I focused on the things I love, plants and nature in general,” said Luce. “I think a part of that is because when I was growing up, my mom always told me that fairies lived wherever plants grew, so I believed fairies were out there taking care of nature.”

According to Luce, it’s easy to find discarded materials in urban areas when compared to rural settings.

“The items that I find here are limited,” said Luce. “The objects that I found to adore my fairies while I was living in New Jersey were different from what I usually find here. The objects and discarded materials that I collect here are more natural like leaves, nuts, shells. However, here I find sticks of various sizes which I use to create bodies of my fairy dolls, so there is a balance.”

Luce lives in Saco with her mom and regularly travels to Portland and other urban cities to see if she can find objects that can be used in her artwork

The 54-year-old artist mentioned that her inspiration is different here from what it was back in Jersey City. “The fairy dolls that I make here are bold and eye-catching. Whereas, the dolls that I made in the urban setting looked more subtle,” said Luce.

However, her two major challenges, she said, were to bake clay in the Summer and the inability to use large sticks to make the dolls.

Currently, the artist is looking at other options that could possibly help her bake outside the oven.

The artist uses twigs, leaves and feathers to adorn her fairy dolls.

Speaking about how art plays an important role in shaping a person, Luce said that art allows individuals to express themselves in any shape, or form. “Whether it is writing, reading, drawing or singing, everything is connected to art. We should encourage individuals to express themselves, just so there will be fewer conflicts and anger in the world,” said Luce.

“The most important message that I want people to receive is that making a living as an artist is not easy. It’s a long hard road, but it’s worth it. Being able to share your art with the world is an amazing feeling,” said Luce.

Her artwork is on display at Merrymeeting Arts Center throughout the month. The artist will also be conducting an art class on how to create a wish box on July 24 at the art center.

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