Friday, July 11, 2008

Collage Workshop @ the Glassell School of Art

I spent most of my college years in art classrooms. Deciding to be an art major was risky, but I felt art was the only path I could stay on that would lead me to a degree. The University erected a new art building which opened my sophomore year. The jewelrymaking room had an amazing array of high speed dental tools, oxygen acetylene torches and a centrifugal lost wax casting machine. I made silver rings for friends, and clunky sculpturesque pins dotted with common gemstones. In the ceramics studio, I learned how to fire gas kilns and make clay using a pug mill. Making pots on the potter's wheel was a true revelation -- I loved centering the clay and producing bowls and cups. I also tried photography, drawing, and printmaking. College did not last long enough as far as making art was concerned. I've made art on my own since then, but never took another formal course.

Finally I've returned to the art room setting. I am taking a workshop on collage at the Glassell School of Art. What a deja vu it was to sit down on a stool at a high work table, its surface paint-spattered and scarred by students past. The second time we met, everyone brought in their scraps of paper, cloth, twigs, and other ephemera to start some projects. One person brought mostly things in bright happy colors, another in a mostly natural shades. You could see where they might be headed with their art, yet you'd be hard pressed to see your own modus operandi spelled out in the collection of clippings and flotsam spilled out on the table.

Sasha, the teacher, challenged us to begin 6 collages all at once. It was chaotic but also freeing. If you got stuck on something in one composition, you turned your attention to the next one. We were asked to bring three back for critiquing next week. So I know what I'll be doing every spare moment between now and then.

I remember the first time I ever saw something resembling a collage. In grade school, when we got a new art teacher, one of the first signs of his creativity was a set of signs for the cafeteria. He used different art papers to make a hamburger and fries on a plate, a milk carton, a lunch box, etc. I was intrigued. I also remember a high school art project involving perspective where I pasted up a room with an alcove, furnishings and inhabitants. I was hooked, and I've enjoyed making collages ever since.

Noodling around a little on the web, I've learned there is an International Society of Collage and Assemblage Artists. I am going to subscribe to their blog. See also CollageArt.org. Perhaps my favorite collage/assemblage artist is Joseph Cornell. Among the collage artists Sasha mentioned with reverence were Robert Rauschenberg, Hannah Hoch and Dario Robleto.

Collage by KAO: Women #14

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