Friday, May 11, 2007

Collage Workshop

Collage Workshop

The Collage Workshop two Saturdays ago was wonderful. Organized by the art gallery for Arts and Culture Week, twelve of us sat at a big table cutting and pasting for seven hours straight. This is an art form I love, making something out of nothing, recycling, appropriating the beautiful images from magazines and using them for something other. And there were twelve totally different results. It’s the creative process that interests me. Why do this? Because it’s fun and challenging. What to do with the end project when it’s made? Well, in this case, they are framed and hung in the gallery for a while, and then ready to hang at home. So the collage will have a decorative element, and must be appropriate for public display. No problem. But what to do? What image? What colours? What will it look like? What will it say?

We looked at examples in the gallery’s Collage Exhibit, which included some three-dimensional sculptures. The facilitator suggested that we could pick a favourite photograph and “transcribe” it into a different medium; we could make a montage of words or images; we could do something inspired by the special papers or the clippings we find. I checked the list of ideas I had before the workshop and decided to go with the Breakthrough engraving. I don’t know the artist’s name but I think it’s an engraving from the Renaissance, of a man on his knees crawling away from the civilized fields and the one tree and bursting through the circle of the globe into a light-filled heaven. I call it Breakthrough but it’s probably meant to be a “pilgrim’s progress” genuflecting, prostrating oneself into heaven.

I know I respond especially to colour; I found myself collecting clippings of gold, sand, white, and blue. An abandoned cheese tray was the template for the circles. My collection of bride images yielded only one suitable clipping. I found a beautiful bare tree in shades of midnight blue. When I tried to explain what I had done to some at the table, I realized that in my “restorying” of this image, a female figure is moving in the opposite direction, up from a white seashell beach through music into an earthworld of darkness and pain and beauty. I cannot say that evolution was my intended theme; it was just that I couldn’t find a figure facing the other direction. That might be biological determinism, as our magazines are all laid out to open on the right. Whatever the reason, in my collage, earthlings emerge. Such is the creative process.

I check my dictionary. Collage: a kind of surrealist art in which bits of flat objects, newspapers, cloth, pressed flowers, etc., are pasted together in incongruous relationship for their symbolic or suggestive effect. Montage: the art or process of making a composite picture by bringing together into a single composition a number of different pictures or parts of pictures and arranging these, as by superimposing one on another, so that they form a blended whole while remaining distinct. Why didn’t I look these up sooner? The title of my montage is ReStorying.

The dictionary also reminds me that my favourite medium is words.

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