Partially-assembled jigsaw puzzles come together in new exhibit at Tyler Museum of Art

Tyler Art Museum Puzzle Exhibit

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The artist behind a new exhibit at the Tyler Museum of Art refers to his works as paintings, but they’re actually collages using something you may have spent a lot of time doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bits & Pieces: Works by Al Souza features partially-assembled jigsaw puzzles.

“We brought this into our schedule because I know that quite a few people have been working on jigsaw puzzles on their kitchen table for the last couple of months,” said TMA Executive Director Chris Leahy. “Here’s an opportunity to look at what those puzzles look like through the eyes of an artist.”

The colorful, detail-rich exhibit uses common everyday jigsaw puzzles — many of which came from thrift stores, according to Leahy.

“He lays them out on his studio floor and he gets up on a step ladder and looks down at them and moves things around to create the image. These puzzles are layered on top of each other. So, you see a lot of different figures and images in it,” Leahy said. “As you look at this, you’ll see one of the images in the background has the Three Stooges’ heads in it, and its got a couple of 70s and 80s TV starts in it.”

From a distance, the pieces do look like paintings.

“One of the things we really like about it is it slows the viewer down. You got to stop and really look at it,” Leahy said.

One of the pieces features three large sunflowers, three red apples and three ballerinas.

“This trilogy, this three, this triplets kind of an image placed through the whole thing. I think there’s probably a religious connotation there because it’s got an image of the holy family. It’s got an image of a baby in a manger. It has images of stained glass windows. It has The Pietá in it, this very famous sculpture,” Leahy said. There’s some underlying theme, but you really can’t tell by looking at it. And I think that’s what the artist wants you to do. He wants you to decide what you’re seeing.”

The exhibit is installed in the gallery in a way that allows visitors to take their time with each piece while maintaining the proper social distancing.

“That’s really important to us, and this show is quite conducive to that,” Leahy said.

Bits & Pieces: Works by Al Souza will be on display until Oct. 18. Click the slideshow below for a sneak peek.

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