Sunday, March 8, 2009


Our next big project in Art 220 is a collage still life. I just wanted to post a few of my thoughts about collage in general.

First of all, I'm excited that this still life and study of depth of field and value is going to be done in collage. Still lives can be so boring sometimes when we draw them traditionally... at least for me they are. I always have to put some extra effort into finding things in the drawing and about the material used that interest me, and this can be tough sometimes, especially when one has to focus on still lives a lot, like in a drawing class. But this collage project has a different feel and energy. There's something very physical and tangible about putting a collage together; about creating pieces for the space and treating each one with glue and sealing it. Collage seems freer and less formal. If one space needs editing, we can simply make more pieces and glue over it. We don't have to worry about erasing and blending and carefully shaping the form in space as we might with graphite or charcoal. Collages are piece-y, perhaps treated with no less care, but with entirely different attributes.

Collages have a look about them that communicates energy and a physical handling of material. They can appear to be quick and somewhat inconsistent. Some can even appear messy or haphazardly put together, but they often still have charming qualities that we love. What is it that we love about collages? Perhaps it's that energy that we can feel emanating from them... we know and can see that each piece of the collage was carefully shaped and glued down and sealed by the artist. Though some collages can look messy and scattered, we know that each piece was placed where it is by the artist for a reason. Anyone who's ever made a collage knows this and has experienced this. Perhaps this gives a collage its sense of uniformity despite its piece-y-ness.

I personally love making collages. It's a process of searching. It's all about searching and shaping: searching for places the pieces might fit, searching for pieces that might fit the places, shaping pieces to fit the places and shaping places to fit the pieces. You can go into as much detail as you want. You can make it as chunky as you want. There's a lot of freedom when it comes to collage. It's fun for me. It's a good way for me to do a still life because I find it refreshing.

Last spring I attended a Zombie Convention at one of the hotels in Greensboro. As one might expect at a ZombieCon, most of the art there was dark and macabre, a sort of surrealistic study of fear and boogie monsters. But I met one artist who did his work in collage. Most of his art was of a surrealist, fantasy genre, and little of it was actually as darkly macabre as the other art. His prints were beautiful - wild, thriving landscapes with all kinds of imaginary creatures and plants put together with pieces completely found and cut out of magazines. They were huge pieces with incredibly elaborate detail - posters full of stunning and colorful eye candy. I was fascinated with his work. I asked him about some of them, and he showed me one piece that took him two years to do. Two years. I couldn't fathom it. Working on the same collage piece for two years? I was completely blown away. Imagine all the magazines he must have leafed through, searching for just the right pieces to express his vision. Imagine all the trial and error he must have experienced: Will this piece work here? How do I feel about this? What is the whole thing missing? What can I add? What should I take away? This whole process of searching (again, collage seems to be fundamentally about searching) fascinates me. Putting together the perfect collage out of pieces he finds or stumbles upon... something seems vividly poetic about it. We could see it as a metaphor for life. We could see it as a metaphor for love and relationships. We could see it as a metaphor for a casserole. There's a lot we can learn from collaging and thinking about collaging, I believe. I'm excited about this project.

1 comment:

  1. Susie--loved your way of talking/delving into collage--that collage is about search!

    I also am interested in the way you are touching upon the physicality of collage--this is one of the best parts of collage--the figuring out of what one is seeing through very physical means.

    nice job here!