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December 04, 2016
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From flea market find to art gallery; Dee Rivera thrives on the art of repurposing

This box is a commissioned work, with items found on a walk in the woods. The skull is a placeholder for a found fossil that will be added later.
Photos by Elizabeth McGee

“Old wooden boxes always excited me,” she said, “and tin boxes, too.” Rivera turns many of these small boxes into little shrines—take, for example, her “Blessed Mother Rusty Tin Shrine Found Object Assemblage” ( And then there’s her “Buddha Shrine Found Objects Assemblage.”

Rivera also has a special attraction for making angels, each one different ( “Since my work is assemblage from repurposed materials, my pieces are like a moment in time,” Rivera explained. “You can come close to repeating it, but no two items can ever be the same.

“People find what I do to be curious and interesting. The work has a kind of spiritual feel to it. The fact is that it was once something else, something that someone discarded, and I am able to bring it to life again and do something different with it, it isn’t junk anymore. People seem to find inspiration in that.”

Rivera has shown her work locally at the DVAA’s gallery in Narrowsburg and hopes to show some works there again this summer.

What’s next for Dee Rivera? For now she’s studying to be a metalsmith with the goal of making free-standing sculptures one day. “One of my aims is to create a big sculpture in rusty metal and let the elements add to its basic form. It’s a vision, but that is how everything starts.”