Saturday, April 19, 2014

Only Connect: Ah, the Thrills of Collage...

I've been making postcard-sized collages for the annual National Collage Society Postcard Show. I love working small! I find I can use tiny bits that I've been saving. The show is a an annual non-juried event, to be held online this year for the first time. Members submit one 4 x 6 " collage and all will be shown. I look forward to seeing the postcards. The three shown here were among the contenders, but obviously I can not/should not publish the collage I am submitting beforehand. The one shown above is called 1, 8, 15, 22, 29.

I named this one High Tide, Low Tide. I love using maps in my collages.

And this one is: Tiger Lily. As you can see, I limited my colors to warm browns, reds, yellow and a little, green and black.
Making collages, I often think of the E. M. Forester quote found at the end of his novel, Howard's End, which I read in college: "Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die."
To be exact, there are two parts of this quote I especially relate to: "Only connect."  And "Live in fragments no longer." Someone recently asked me "Why collage?" My immediate response was that in collage, I find deep integration. Combining fragments into a new whole is deeply satisfying. It is a bit like quilting, which I also enjoy. But I find cut and paste work with various papers and some mixed media provides a faster form of satisfaction than sewing.
When I've gone too long without making collages, what a joy it is to sit down and rediscover its thrills: connecting images that were formerly disconnected. Working with color and shape as well as the inherent subject matter feels a bit like making picture poems. There are joyful times that lines, shapes or textures inter-connect as I play with the pieces. And though here I am praising the points of connection, I believe most collages have inherent disconnected elements as well, and that makes for a certain built-in paradoxical or (hopefully) eye-catching appeal. Collage exists in sort of an alternative universe or dreamtime. I have observed that often people do not take the art form of collage seriously. That is why I am glad for the existence of the National Collage Society. When the show goes live later this year, I will link to it here.
Happy Easter weekend!
PS: Here is the 2014 NCS Postcard Show
And here is my entry, titled Parts Unknown:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

There's always plenty to love about a new novel by Anna Quindlen! I felt immediate sympathy for Rebecca Winter, the photographer who at age 60, considers herself at an impasse in her life. Once famous as a groundbreaking (some say feminist artist), her fame has peaked and her finances are precarious. The only way she can pay her bills, including her mother's nursing home tab, is to rent out the Manhattan apartment she owns and move upstate and become a renter herself. Clearly she is lonely and running scared.

When the rundown cabin she moves into proves to have a raccoon inhabitant in the attic, she gets help from a roofer/Wildlife worker named Jim Bates. Eventually, he helps Rebecca find work as a nature photographer. She also finds herself becoming a hiker and begins photographing a series of mysterious white cross shrines she finds in the woods. She begins to think these may be the best photos she's ever taken. Reluctantly, then more enthusiastically, she accepts the company of a stray dog and also photographs him. Supporting characters in the small town take a shine to Rebecca, though she tends to shrug off her former fame. Connections between Jim and Rebecca provide complications and mysteries. Taken all together, these characters exemplify small town life and really paint a picture of the world Rebecca has dropped into.

If I was to pick at anything about this book, it would be the predictable nature of the somewhat timeworn plot arc where a big city girl morphs into a country mouse, etc. But I forgive Quindlen this structure for it afforded me communion with the soul of the artist Rebecca Winter. I found her to be so unique and interesting, she truly seemed real to me. Thus I read the book quickly and felt quite bereft when the novel ended, not that it ended sadly, but just because my time with everyone between its book covers was over.