Sunday, June 5, 2022

The Meeting Place

collage, hand cut vintage paper collage, vintage hand cut paper collage, mixed media collage, dance collage, bird collage

Hello again!
I'm so glad to be back sharing another collage with you. Since I never quite know which direction the creative part of my brain is going to pull me in, it always feels like a miracle that I managed to not only execute a project, but get it photographed and sit myself down to write about it.
In my post last week, I talked about the challenge of creating atmosphere. Since then, I've been thinking about visual story telling. As I survey the collage works that I've been making I see a common theme: character development. There is a lot of talk in the political world about finding common ground in our humanity. Of course right now, that idea is the furthest thing from our current situation, but I digress...
When choosing images to use in my pieces, it appears that I often start with the human figure. This might seem obvious but the truth is that I am not a 'people person' at all. Rather, I prefer solitude and need a lot of time and space for processing thoughts, actions and words. This reality came to me slowly over the last twenty years as I watched my son grow up. We are so much alike in this respect! It's like looking in the rear view mirror sometimes.
But again, while it feels ironic to me to start the creative process with the human form, I am beginning to understand the reason for it. Not only am I looking to create an atmosphere but I am trying to get to the heart of what it feels like to be human, which again, is how I am digging into how we relate (and react) to the world around us. I have to laugh at myself as I re-read what I am writing here. And then I want to cry because I should have been doing this kind of work in my twenties!
So what is it about the human dynamic that are we looking at in today's collage? The simple explanation is that I found a vintage book about the history of dance (which I also talked about last week) and the ballerina (above) is cut from that book.
And because in the book she was leaning in a doorway, I needed to capitalize on that posture. So after I cut the image out I went traveling through my bird books to find her a companion. Meet the Ascension Island frigatebird (Fregata aquila). Once I placed them together, it felt like their relationship to one another immediately took on a 'fairy-tale-like' quality.
Also, I realized right away that in order for both images to be better viewed, that the dancer needed to be standing on something, otherwise the pair would have to sit too far down on the bottom edge. So I found the dancer a plinth and suddenly, when placing the pair on my painted background in that way, the atmosphere began to come alive!
I like how it looks like a genuinely personal moment between the two 'characters' and decided to give the piece an aura of a taking place in a garden. I debated with myself about completely filling the space with flowers and maybe more birds. But, being the minimalist that I am, instead settled on just two other red elements, creating a visual triangle with the frigatebird's inflatable red pouch.
From this vantage point, the rest is left to the imagination: is the ballerina a statue, permanently affixed to the top of a column? Or is she a real human that must climb up the column to meet her friend? Lover? Or is the frigatebird enamored with either a statue or a human and perches on a nearby branch to rendezvous with her? More importantly, (in the traditional vein of the fairy-tale) what could be a lesson here?
You might think of a completely different take on the scene above. And that's okay, because we're all on the same journey and we need to explore, address and express how we see the world around us and communicate those thoughts and feelings in healthy ways that can advance a conversation or cause to find that common ground that the world desperately needs right now.
How do you make sense of the world these days?

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