So glad I made the decision to attend the first-ever KolajFest, a multi-day festival & symposium about contemporary collage and its role in art, culture, and society, held July 12-15, 2018 in New Orleans.It was an honor to deliver the first presentation in the Collage-Making Space, “Ripping It Up,” followed by a demo of my wet-working technique and time for those attending to give it a try. I challenged everyone to try ripping their papers... there were a lot of meticulous paper-cutters in the room so it was fun to see people experimenting and working outside their comfort zone. It was great to connect with people in a truly hands-on way right at the outset of the conference. I so appreciate all of you who were able to be there and participate with such enthusiasm. Thanks to Ric Kasini Kadour and Chris Byrne for their support in prepping for my talk and to Kevin Sampsell and Jay Berrones who set up and managed the collage-making area. I was glad to be the “guinea pig” in that space -- and get my session out of the way! There were lots of choices of where to be and what to focus on at any given moment -- so it was sometimes very hard to decide which session to attend. Beyond the planned sessions, I loved connecting with other collage-makers in the moments in-between and during the walks between venues. Meeting and spending time with people whose work I’d long admired online was really wonderful. Some of my personal highlights included:• Spending time with like-minded, paper-loving collagists with such diverse practices, visions, and approaches -- who embrace this medium with near-fervent enthusiasm.• Getting re-acquainted with Jill Stoll, an extraordinary collage-maker whose new series “Women Standing Alone” was represented with two works in the exhibition “Revolutionary Paths: Critical Isssues in Collage” at Antenna Gallery.• Connecting with an artist whose work I’d admired online, Andrea Burgay, who brought the first issue of Cut Me Up magazine with her. A call and response project, you cut up the first issue to inspire a collage, then submit your work to be considered for inclusion in the next issue, and so on. Only a few copies remain; order one here.• Hearing about the many creative collaborative projects that Amy Tingle is working on via the Creativity Caravan. I'm enjoying her book, Strange Diary, or How to Make a Collage.• Seeing presentations that placed collage in a broader historical sense and learning about Todd Bartel’s concept of “UnCollage.”• Meeting Danielle Krysa... aka blogger/podcaster The Jealous Curator. Be sure to check out her new book, coming in October, titled A Big Important Art Book (Now with Women). Mine is pre-ordered :)• Learning about Jay Berrone’s business, Toil, launching now via kickstarter -- for the purpose of reproducing collage via the medium of silk screen printing.• Having conversations about raising the profile of collage plus creating more community and collaboration opportunities... riffing off all the enthusiasm in the air.• Getting fresh ideas about my role in the world of collage and wondering how those might develop...• Exploring previously-unknown-to-me parts of New Orleans in the mid-summer heat and being rewarded with amazing food, jalapeno watermelon margaritas, and great conversations.OK, I’ve barely scratched the surface! Kolaj magazine’s recap of KolajFest is here and worth a read. Maybe I’ll see you at the next one?Huge thanks to everyone who participated with such a spirit of generosity and to all those who made this inaugural event possible.
Kolaj Magazine has proclaimed Saturday to be World Collage Day. Celebratory events are happening all around the world, so you may want to check to see if there is something planned for your area. Or plan one for yourself! Hopefully people will also use the #worldcollageday hashtag and post their work online that day.If you're unfamiliar with the magazine, and you're intrigued by collage, it's worth seeking out and/or subscribing. Besides in-depth articles and reviews, each issue typically includes a few fun cut-out pages for you to literally take apart and consider for use in your next collage.For their World Collage Day Special Edition, the magazine included profiles of 14 artists along with a cut-out page for each. I'm happy to have been included (even though cutting is not generally part of my methodology, as I'm a ripper of materials).The cut-out page that I submitted reflects what I most like to work with: chunks of color, texture and pattern... in this case ripped and roughly organized in a grid. Happy World Collage Day! Of course, nearly every day is a happy collage day in my estimation!
It seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time to move everything back into my newly rehabbed studio spaces. I'm sifting, sorting -- and evaluating whether I will ever use some of the potential collage papers and art materials that I've stored for a long time. I've gotten rid of stacks of magazines, a behemoth of a flat file, and a worktable in an effort to keep more open space. I've only been in the space a couple of weeks and I've already rearranged the furniture a bit! I'm pretty sure I'll want to do more tweaking when I understand better how the spaces accommodate my process and workflows. And there is still a lot to resolve. And it feels like it should be DONE by now.So it was a gift to stumble across a timely blog post, "Tidying Up," by Austin Kleon today...
"The best studio tidying is a kind of exploring — I’m re-discovering spaces as I sift through the objects that occupy them. The reason I tidy is not to clean, but to come into contact with something special that I’ve forgotten that I can now use. This is a slow, dreamy, ruminative, reminiscent form of tidying."
Really, I'm clearing space for future work / possibilities... plus making new discoveries and connections.
"...creativity is about connections, and connections are not made by siloing everything off into its own space. New ideas are formed by interesting juxtapositions, and interesting juxtapositions happen when things are out of place."
Meanwhile, glimpses from the process...
It was wonderfully nostalgic -- here's a photo of me in front of Fairbanks Hall, the art building, which seems almost entirely unchanged since I graduated. The atmosphere, with smells of paint and views out the old glass windows, is just as I remembered. The gallery inside was hosting a really well-conceived show, titled "Totality."
I was totally enchanted by the cast shadows that were the reverse of what we were looking at in the sky (with our special glasses on, of course).
I was alternatively looking at the sun with my glasses and then taking them off to see what was happening on the ground. All the while the air was cooling as the sunlight diminished. (The white stripe bisecting the image with blue/green background is boundary line on the sports court.)
Suddenly it seemed like the moon snapped fully over the sun. I felt that I heard a sonic boom. Then it was dark above, with a glow 360 degrees around the edges of the horizon as if the sun had set not long ago... simply gorgeous. We were able to look up without the glasses during that time and try to absorb what we were seeing.
The image of the moon in front of the sun was so powerful. We were awe-struck. I feel like the image is imprinted on my brain -- I can be recall it in a very clear way. The eclipse tinted us and everything around us a metallic gray color. The shimmery glow around the moon was beautiful. Totality lasted less than two minutes and then the moon began to move off the sun. We put our glasses back on and watched the remainder of the eclipse until the sun shone fully again. I have a whole new recognition of the three dimensionality of the moon and sun in space now.
I'm wondering how experiencing the eclipse might affect my work in the future. I've always loved circles and have taught myself how to rip pretty good ones, if a little ragged, to use in my collages.
I was struck when I got home from the trip and looked anew at this collage, "Replay," made in 2012, which hangs over my desk. The correlations are rather interesting... it has a painted background with salvaged and painted papers applied on top. And yes, I ripped all those yellow-gold circle shapes and the half circle negative strips.
While the rest of the family has declared themselves to be total umbraphiles, I'm still processing this stunning experience... not sure if seeing another would diminish or enhance the power of the first experience. If you've never seen a total solar eclipse though, I believe it’s worth making the effort to get a location where you can experience totality... as my favorite commemorative t-shirt read, "Totality Worth It!"