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I got my introduction to collage from my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Feinstein. Her art classes were magical to me. Who else would try to get children to recreate the Aztec calendar stone in plaster of Paris? We didn't do too well, but I was entranced as much by the images to which Mrs. Feinstein introduced us, and by her enthusiasm, as by anything we might have attempted.
Check out The International Museum of Collage, Assemblage and Construction, which has terrific artistic links and resources. Creative Collage Techniques, by Nita Leland and Virginia Lee Williams, is a wonderful sourcebook for collage and papermaking. Nita Leland's site is a treasure-trove of creative resources as well.
My work was exhibited at the Goddess 2000 exhibit at the Zeitgeist Gallery, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in August 2000 and at a group show (Enigma of the Goddess) at the Massachusetts College of Art in August 2002. In April-May 2001 I participated in an Earth Day exhibit at A Strong Cup of Coffee in Dorchester, Massachusetts -- featuring art made from found and recycled objects. I showed 14 works at A Strong Cup of Coffee in November 2001-January 2002. As part of the Dorchester Arts Collaborative I helped coordinate the first Dorchester Open Studios, October 26 and 27, 2002. After moving to Florida I became involved in the Citrus County Art League and have participated in several shows.
She Who Dwells Within
Mixed media on wood (top and bottom details are shown to the right). The mirror on her forehead in the top detail reflects a "5" from a wall calendar. The sunburst patterns at the top of the board are fabric. The shiny portions in the upper left are parts of a CD. The goddess's hair is a mixture of Mary's hair and mine, and shed fur from our cats Daisy & Red. (The goddess is primordial; she's not supposed to have a good hair day.) Other objects here include white pigeon feathers, seed pods, bark, sweetgum burrs, rope, and acrylic paint mixed with modeling paste and gloss gel.
Using paper pulp as sculpting material, I started fashioning cats. I made the black cat with white rear paws to match the cat belonging to the person who purchased that particular sculpture; the real cat is shown on the photographed computer screen.
Crone Goddess in blue, followed by Conjuring Goddess in red. More paper pulp this time, trying out new forms. As a child, I had taken an old Barbie doll, removed her fake hair, glued on my own, and dressed her up to look like a fantasy protectress who had "come to me." Unlike the limitations inherent in re-casting a Barbie doll, these goddesses dictated their own forms. Conjuring Goddess currently resides at the Cambridge Women's Center. The Amazon is my first standing sculpture, pictured here with the others. Her arrows are made from toothpicks, and are fletched with snippets of pigeon feather.
In May 2000 I found a large treasure trove of "trash" put out at the curb, including pieces of a folding closet door. The piece I used for Totem was 1 by 7 feet, and had a hole seemingly kicked into it. I turned the door upside down and transformed the hole into a bird's nest, housing 3 baby birds in a combination of white pigeon fluff and shed cat fur. Mama bird is a pulp sculpture stuck with adult pigeon feathers. The mirror pieces in the sun/moon combination came from the curb as well. The rest is sculpted paper pulp.
I created this menorah in electronic collage, as my Chanukah card for 1999/5760. Its base is a small menorah that I have had since early childhood, that is backdropped by a full moon. Its candles are represented by Astraea, the ancient Roman goddess of holy law, or Libra (my birth sign). The candle flames hold aloft images of the Earth. The Shamash, or central candle, is represented by the double-helix of DNA and topped by an image of the sun.
I shot picture after picture of a sky resplendent with cumulus clouds, then used an X-Acto knife to cut the photos to match the shapes of glass pieces found at Dorchester Bay. The base is made from a photo enlargement sandwiched between two pieces of plate glass found on the curb. Before the "Tower of Babel" was built in an attempt to reach the heavens, and since, clouds have been building their own, three-dimensional towers in the sky -- hence the title.
Mixed media on homemade paper. I turned discarded office paper into pulp, and mixed that for the bottom layer with red acrylic paint, then embedded small pigeon feathers as it dried. I embedded dry grass in the top layer. The bird image was lifted from its original printed advertisement onto layers of gloss medium. Three pigeon feathers, their quills under a piece of textured glass found at Dorchester Bay during low tide, are attached to the homemade paper with gloss gel. I made the hanging apparatus from rope painted crimson alizarin, attached via slipknots and gloss medium to a chopstick painted the same color.
Mixed media on homemade paper.
Mixed media on wood. My next-door neighbor remodeled his bathroom, thereby providing me with the wood and the tiles. The windows themselves are my foray into glass-cutting. I found the cards, bottles, and rose petals on the street.
I rescued a cabinet from the trash (top left) and turned it into my art supply cabinet. The large horizontal surface is a gazania (daisy family); the sides are painted with meconopsis (blue poppies) and butter-and-eggs (snapdragon family). The doors are painted with pulsatilla and a bee; above them a snail resides. I placed my invocation to the God/dess on the back. My source materials included Harold Feinstein's One Hundred Flowers and Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix's The Random House Book of Perennials. (The portrait of the woman on top of the finished cabinet is of my mother, done by her brother.)
Another neighbor discarded slatted kitchen cabinet doors. I attached two doors to each other with wood glue and proceeded to do a collage triptych, first putting the collage together for each panel and then cutting each collage into pieces fitting the slats and frames. Most of the center panel is made from photographs I took on the bog boardwalk at Ponkapoag Pond in Blue Hills Reservation south of Boston. (The exception is the sky, which was taken from the same photographs I used in Before Babel, above.) The center panel, reflecting organic nature, is flanked by the effects of greed to the left and those of war to the right. The triptych is shown closed and open, followed by individual panel detail.
The black-tone wood board with built-in shelf was part of a bed headboard put out on the curb. A friend wanted me to do up a portly pixie, so the pixies here go counter to the stereotype of young, svelte fairy folk. Their wings are made from a combination of acrylic paint and gloss gel, which dries transparent. The wings for the pixie on the left are shaped around telephone wire.
I found the wood base out back of a strip mall, and gathered together leftover fabric with various items gathered from Dorchester Bay at low tide. The colorful pieces at the upper left are part of a shattered mask from my landlady, who couldn't bear to throw them out and knew where they'd be put to good use.
Gifts of the Sea
This uses a companion wood base to that for Crone Pixies, to which I added shells found at Dorchester Bay, with golden paper pulp "pearls." Each "pearl" has a face.
I created a pattern from a manila folder, from which I cut canvas that I then gessoed and painted. I added pigeon feathers, autumn leaves encased in acrylic, and golden paper pulp "nuggets." At the last minute I found and added a bluejay feather that waited for me as I was putting out my own trash at the curb. Magnets form the necklace's "clasp."
My neighborhood is filled with century-old Victorian triple-deckers that seem to be in an almost constant state of renovation. The foundation board for this piece is a simple piece of pine. Objects, mostly from the bay, are embedded in a paper pulp sea.
Clockwise from upper left:
When the bathrooms in my former workplace were being retiled I retrieved discarded fragments the workers had left behind for trash. To the tile I attached fragments found at Dorchester Bay during low tide, along with a "green Banshee" made of paper pulp and shed fur. Office Spirit graced my office desk until I left the company.
I sculpted the woman some time after doing the table, but they seemed to go well together.
Secrets of the Universe
This is the first mixed-media art I created after moving to Florida. The objects I've attached came down with me from Boston, but the wood base comes is a discard courtesy of the Beverly Hills, FL, Woodworking Guild.
The "tongue" is something I picked off the beach along Florida's Gulf Coast. The crossbar to which I've attached the mirror fragments is also courtesy of the Beverly Hills Woodworking Guild trash bin.
All pieces in this group, except for Secrets of the Universe, have been on display at the Citrus County Art League gallery. Secrets... was sold in a silent auction to benefit the Florida State Poets Association.
Technically this is collage, not mixed media, but I'm including it here. In August, instructors at the Citrus County Art League exhibit work that is germane to what they teach. Since I teach writing, I did up a collage containing a sample of my published work, snipping scanned pages and covers of magazines and anthologies.
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