Making and Breaking Rules

Much of the art I do is pieced together or developed incrementally, the way my journals are pieced together day by day. Collage is a natural extension of how I like to work. Collage sharpens my eye, my sense of color and shape, my sensitivity to material itself. There is a peculiar joy in finding the beauty in what has been discarded and weathered. The gathering of the found materials is a sort of archaeology.

The process of making collage is so wide-open, the possibilities so unlimited, that I make up rules for myself, and then, once established, I set about breaking them. Collage calls for a playfulness that is not always apparent in my other art, although it’s always there. Text often plays a part in collage so there is opportunity for puns and visual puns and strange associations of words and images. The materials used add to the playfulness; there can be a paradox or ambiguity in the materials used to create a particular image, (candy-wrapper Madonnas or leaden birds, for example.) Through collage I can explore human-kind’s relationship to natural and manufactured or synthetic materials.

Instruments for playing moon music

The Rules:

All collages are created on 14 x 17 inch bristle board. All materials are on hand in my studio at Ragdale. I make do with what is available. All instruments are based on sketches of instruments in a show called “Sounds of the Silk Road:  Musical Instruments of Asia,” (2005 Boston Museum of Fine Arts.)

Breaking the Rules:

Not every collage has an instrument. Some collages are smaller than 14 x 17 inches.

Bird Calendar

The Rules:

All collages begin with a calendar page. Each bird can be seen in Oak Park in that month. All collages are based on my sketches. Each bird is labeled with type from newspaper headlines. All edges are torn. Each collage contains one unexpected (non-paper) element; for example, the crow, February, is perched on a piece of lead.

Breaking the rules:

The Loon, August, is from a New Hampshire sighting because I always spend a good part of August in New Hampshire.