Sunday, May 29, 2022

James Waring Dances the Merz

hand cut vintage paper collage, vintage hand cut paper collage, character development in collage, atmosphere in collage, painted backgrounds in collage

Hello Friends!

It's been fun getting back into the groove of collage.

I've been working on creating painted abstract backgrounds to add more color and interest to my compositions. I'm also challenging myself to be more selective in my gluing process so as to allow more dimension. I'm using just enough raised foam adhesive to glue the pieces down yet allow for some shadow effect. If you look to the right of each of the elements above you can see this happening.

With Covid restrictions easing up, Jimmy and I were excited to read that the public library was bringing back their annual Library Book Sale. He likes to read mystery authors such as H.C. Bailey and I enjoy looking for 'collage fodder' so we donned our masks, headed to the sale, and had fun getting lost in the world of books.

One book in particular that I was excited to find was Anthology of Dance. It's from the 1970s and is a compendium of the modern dance movement from that time. I had been waiting to find a vintage book on modern dance, so this book, with its somewhat grainy black and white photographs was perfect!

As I flipped through the book, this image of James Waring (1922-1975) caught my attention immediately. At first he reminded me of Sherlock Holmes with his dark hair and top hat. But I was also enamored with his dance outfit and pose. And when I read the short paragraph accompanying his photo and learned that he was not only a dancer, choreographer and teacher but also dabbled in collage, my interest was kindled! The book also mentioned that in both dance and collage he was influenced by, prioritized and embraced experimentalism.

I love the challenge of creating atmosphere in collage (another reason for adding paint), and I will often add birds in flight as part of that idea. There is something about a grand landscape where, as one takes in the stillness of an expansive panoramic view, the sight of birds flying across the sky seems to slow the passing of time and allows the space within ourselves to expand. Some might call it Buddha-nature.

In that spirit, I thought it would be fun to place Waring in a time and place where he is in the process of, well, it could be collage... but it might be dance.

His outstretched arm led me to think how that gesture could be a part of the story and I also considered how experimentalism, like Dada and Merz, challenge the viewer's perceptions about what art is. In particular Waring's choreography is considered 'collage-like' in its experimentation and unexpected juxtapositions. So why not place him within a fanciful atmosphere, casting his cards, and relying on the serendipitious landing of the cards to tell him what the next dance steps will be? Or perhaps his intention is to create a collage, based on chance, wherein he will paste the cards in the exact arrangement they will fall in. Either way, the viewer is a witness to Waring's expressive pose and his creativity in that moment, slowed by the sight of a migrating bird...


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