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Posts Tagged ‘collage

Medieval Nightmares

Medieval Nightmares (2016), 13.5×20″ each, encaustic collage on paper.

This series is made from individual folio pages from the book European Brasses by A.C. Bouquet and Michael Waring, published by Frederick Praeger Publishers in 1967. Brasses are funerary or memorial effigies made by incising portrait images into a large sheet of metal made from a combination of cooper and zinc (called latten). They were popular from the 11th – 14th centuries in Northern central Europe, especially Flanders, Germany and France.

The brasses were permanently installed in churches and mausoleums and feature a variety of personages (vicars, church patrons, wealthy merchants, etc. and their families). I have combined these memorials that sought to assure glory for the afterlife with images of planets and solar system in a sort of mash-up of old and new cosmos.

Three of these nasties so far. All feature critters with whom you would not want to share your bed.

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July 19, 2016 at 3:33 pm

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Revolt in the Desert

RevoltThe Desert (Revolt in the Desert) (2014), book pages, tea, collage on paper, 72 x 42”

This collage is made from an Arabic-language version of TS Lawrence’s account of Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire. The pages were torn apart, steeped in tea, dried in sunlight, and glued willy-nilly on watercolor paper. The small image of Sir Lawrence in full Bedouin attire is from the photographic illustrations. Oddly, I found an edition of this work in Arabic and in Hebrew only a few weeks apart in two different Oregon bookstores.

In homage to the Super Panavision 70 mm format of Alexander Korda’s 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia, this collage is long and narrow to mimic the image aspect ratio of 2.20:1 and the vastness of a desert horizon.

Revolt_det3   Revolt_det1



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July 10, 2016 at 5:00 pm

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Paradiso (2013) 39×50 inches, book pages and gold paint on paper.

This piece is a sister to Inferno, but celebrates the text with a constellation of gold spots. As with the other books in Dante’s Divine Comedy, circles play a central role in Paradiso (Heaven, or Paradise). Concepts of orbiting, traveling, tunneling, and returning are evoked over and over, but in the Paradiso story, this journey is made with the lovely Beatrice who schools Dante in all manner of cosmic and celestial phenomena. There are parallels to a radical reading of Adam and Lilith, whereby Lilith knows more than Adam about the world around them. In this story, Beatrice confirms the wonder and majesty of the world as a divine creation, while introducing many concepts of the medieval science of the times.

This piece was made from a small bilingual copy (Italian-English) titled The Paradiso of Dante Alighieri and published by J. M. Dent & Sons in London, 1958,  so the entire text in Italian is visible.

Seems like I cannot avoid Purgatorio at this point…

Detail of small center portion for scale:


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November 18, 2013 at 9:51 am

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Mrs Dalloway


Mrs Dalloway (View of the Ouse in Daylight) and Mrs Dalloway (View of the Ouse in Moonlight), (2013) each panel 50″x38″. Watercolor and book pages on paper.

This diptych was created out of the text of Virginia Woolf’s dazzling short novel, Mrs Dalloway , originally published in London in 1925.  The two panels are subtitled View of the Ouse in Daylight (yellow) and View of the Ouse in Moonlight (blue), with daylight referencing Clarissa and moonlight referencing Septimus, two of the central characters/voices of the novel. Clarissa and Septimus create an axis on which the story revolves, and a counterpoint of tension around questions of sanity, personal happiness, and our ability to control the course of our own lives, even through a  single day.

The flow of the novel is truly brilliant; each character woven into the narrative through stream of consciousness observations, reflecting and refracting points of view, while moving multiple characters onward, each on a path of self-definition.

The “underlayer” of each panel is a watercolor view of the River Ouse, the Sussex river in which Woolf committed suicide in 1941.  The “overlayer” is created from the pages of two editions of Mrs Dalloway. Each page was cut individually into an interlocking pattern reminiscent of late 19th century wallpaper patterns of upper-class English residences, such as the one in which Clarissa would have hosted her momentous party.


Here are two details:


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April 17, 2013 at 11:05 am

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Halo (2012) 14.5×18″. Cut books mounted on wood.

This piece is an apt summation of my art work of the last couple of years– most of which is born out of deep attachment to and reverence for the book form (arguably the most ingenious, mobile, transferable, humanistic, and renewable technology ever devised).

When I started this piece I imagined a huge gilt portal large enough to walk through made from stacked books, like a miniature, modular, Modernist version of the Shwedagon Pagoda.  It quickly became apparent that finding and collecting the necessary number of books to create a monumental edifice would take months, or years, and that our garage would be clogged with crates of literary cast-offs. Sadly, I have neither a huge, airy studio to store materials nor a team of hip and eager studio assistants to help me collect them. Even so,  I can say that the experience of sawing through a wheelbarrow of books was both jarring and exhilarating (sort of). Thanks to B.  for setting up his table saw with the appropriate jigs to create these book slices.

Of course, I can’t help but mention that the past year has presented a fairly constant stream of opinions, exhortations, and predictions on the demise of the book and the changing nature of libraries. The controversies at the NY Public Library have been well documented in the Nation, the NY Times and elsewhere. Public, school, and academic libraries and library staff are under enormous pressures that are born out of economic, procedural, philosophical, and social changes in the knowledge and information landscape. My own life as librarian has been dramatically shaped by the current state of affairs.

The New York Times Book Review had two essays on the topic of books just last  week:  Leah Price’s Dead Again and It’s Alive! by Gillian Silverman which does a beautiful job of describing the allegorical nature of the argument that we are books and books are us.

Halo is a more modest proposal and akin to a household alter (sans deity).  It just  simply shines.

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August 20, 2012 at 10:18 am

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Metamorphosis (Brick Pattern) (2011) 23×25″, book pages and string.

Here are two pieces using the text of Franz Kafka’s story, The Metamorphosis.  I started with a bilingual German/English edition (Schocken Books, 1968) so that I wouldn’t loose text on the verso of each page. Then I cut the text in to blocks and arranged them in geometric patterns.   These two examples use traditional parquet floor patterns as the basis for a depiction of Gregor Samsa’s nightmare.  Overlaid on the text-as-floor is another pattern made of white string.  It is really hard to see the string pattern in these photos (while the bottom piece is too yellow, you can see the thread more clearly).

The secondary pattern references the desperate, frantic, and mindless movements Gregor makes in his new reality as a bug in a scale that reflects his size and point of view scurrying across the floor or clinging to the crown molding, as his identity and will-to-be slowly collapses in the face of a macabre struggle. Fear and trembling meet sweet lemon floor wax.

Metamorphosis (Double Herringbone Pattern) (2011) 17X19″, book pages, gouache, and string.

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January 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm

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Mirror Madonna

Mirror Madonna (2011) 11×22″. Photo emulsion, pigment, and silver leaf on wax.

On my first trip to Turkey (1990), I collected various ephemera (newspaper clippings, phone cards, ticket stubs, coupons, receipts) during the course of travel.

Part of this impulse was fueled by the need to learn Turkish:  I figured that those little snippets of everyday life contained critical little snippets of everyday vocabulary! Another factor was the laden beauty of the things. At the time, phone cards were adorned with images of miniature paintings, Ottoman calligraphy, and other magnificent artifacts of Turkish history. I still have a fat envelope of favorites.

The photograph for the Mirror Madonna came from the newspaper Cumhuriyet. It was a bit mind-bending to look at a Turkish newspaper because every issue was full of examples epitomizing the hypocritical mainstream Turkish representation of women. A busty peroxide blond in German lederhosen (sort of, but less) invites you to visit the newest luxury condominium, or a blond Bunny in harem pants waits for your call on your new cell phone.

But Turkish women themselves–the majority of whom are neither blond nor comfortable being naked in public– were almost always victimized in some way. The mother of an imprisoned son. The daughters whose father ran away with a Danish tourist. Women kicked out of the Academy of Sciences for wearing a veil. Granted, I could only “read” the newspaper in an extremely limited way, but I understood those images of  Turkish women carried a double burden: victimized and exalted.

This particular image came from an article about a mining explosion in which several miners were killed. It is a portrait of a miner’s wife–now widowed–with her baby boy. Her expression–her longing and resignation–is timeless.

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April 12, 2011 at 10:13 am

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