I'm biased in my love for collage and mixed media work and for good reason. More than a painting, a collage/mixed media piece to me has so much more meaning and depth due to the finite nature of the items which it incorporates. Generally when people see my collage work in photos they seem visually interesting to them in composition, but it's when they see the pieces in person and here the stories of where the artifacts and ephemera that are incorporated into the piece, that the "a-ha" moment occurs. Collages tell stories and just like different actors and scenes come together to tell a story in film, so too do all the various items, brush strokes and their juxtapositions, completing a dynamic visual narrative. With that said, I thought I'd breakdown one of my collages and call out some of the items and where they came from.
To start with, here is a picture of the piece Hide and Seek. It's a 49" x 51" collage and mixed media piece done on reclaimed plywood.
To break it down into more detail, here are 4 close up pictures of the piece, starting from the top left. You can get a bit more of a sense of the details and how the items are layered and composed.
You can get an even better sense of the level of detail and all the items that are incorporated into this piece. There are probably close to 50 objects of various sizes interspersed throughout this collage but I thought I'd call out 12 in particular to give some more background about.
1. A rusty washer I found in the street on my walk home in Cincinnati
2. A tag found in an old metal cabinet, circa 1950s
3. A family photo bought at a garage sale in Chicago, circa 1960s
4. A postcard of cold war era Berlin, bought in Berlin in 2009
5. A hood ornament from a truck bought at a flea market in Amsterdam in 2008
6. A tin soldier prayer plaque bought in Athens in 2004
7. A newspaper insert picture of Steve McQueen from 1955
8. Pages from a 1952 HAM radio directory with a hand written note found inside the directory
9. Club flier torn off of a wall in Berlin in 2009
10. A photocopy of the Voyager spacecraft
11. A hand-painted image of the TV tower in Berlin
12. The inside of an envelope
Though there are a few items from Berlin that tell a bit of the story that I intended, you can see that a number of the pieces are newer, much older and/or completely irrelevant to any story regarding Berlin in any way. However when all assembled, it's clear there is a story of a place and time. A story all created using finite items that can be used only once. That's the part of collage that I really like. The commitment required to create them. I collect artifacts from all over the world, from different time periods and I selectively choose which are to be incorporated into new pieces. And once an item is used, it's gone. Every step counts and no piece can ever be replicated. I hope that this little break down helps demystify the process a bit while telling a bit of the backstory behind the actual story.