Category Archives: Collage

Where is your strength your totem

What totem, what symbol, what spirit of grace might show up at the table today?

Another provocative and well-timed prompt by Acey at the midpoint of Collage Month.*

I was flummoxed — which seemed like a version of an old script that says, ‘I have no support, no bolstering grace.’ The potential (provable) fallacy of such a view kicked up a healthy skepticism. I went off and cleaned the upstairs.

Autocorrect changed the parenthetical word above from “probable” to “provable.” The substituted sense is stronger and I will be collecting proofs of bolstering grace going forward.

Later, shifting papers around, it came to me that my totem had already shown up. Repeatedly.

It’s that silhouette. He is part ghost, part Jedi Master, part Arab (as signifier of the larger world). He looks backwards but moves forward. He shows up anywhere and everywhere. He is witness but also, IN and OF every landscape.

The figure holds mystery. How do I even know their gender?

I consciously put strips of paper in a couple of these compositions that reference language and textiles, two areas of pursuit in my life that might be considered redemptive.

The messier assemblage below also suggests the possible (probable)* damnation that arises when a white author or quilter takes on the subject of American slavery. That’s something discussed here on this blog from time to time and not for today except to name the symbols.

The boat etching could have come straight out of The 1619 Project: a scene of bodies being moved to a colony as chattel. Or perhaps these paddlers are already on some planter’s inventory and move merchandise from ship to shore. The gold paper scraps represent the vast sums of wealth generated on the backs of black bodies. The big bones overhanging — weighty, limiting, obscuring of the sky — represent structural racism. Lasting, like bones. Hidden, like bones. The tri-part composition seems to graphically reference the “wealth gap.”

*(The switch from ‘probable’ to ‘provable’ also applies here. Much damning critique has entered the public debate about cultural appropriation).

Finally, I also came upon the photo below — an arrangement of pieced/loose sections laid out while studying the Middle Passage. They never got assembled and so the picture might represent, not grief at the collective wrongs of whiteness, but the personal sense of loss arising from things undone.

Sorry for the ramble here today, but along with fears about the future, stuff about writing often comes up in collage work, too.

*

For info on this collage project see Acey’s blog

For more SoulCollage cards of mine, go to Flickr on sidebar and open the SoulCollage album. Or, track the ‘SoulCollage’ and ‘collage’ tags here on the blog.

The ‘slavery’ tag will take you to several years of thoughts about both history and my relationship to it.

Also: The New York Times published The 1619 Project, but I didn’t link to them because of their firewall. If you subscribe, go there first. The NYTimes podcast The Daily, put out several Saturday episodes expanding on the topic which were moving and informative.

Originator of the project: Nikole Hannah-Jones @nhannahjones (on Instagram). There’s also a hashtag: #1619project.

I couldn’t capture it

The light was beautiful for Finn’s and my second walk and it defied capture. We made the long loop at three instead of at nine because it was raining this morning. Also, it’s supposed to be in the teens tomorrow with 30-40 mph winds and we might not want to venture far.

The wires caught the sunlight, making them jewel-like. Two banks of clouds in the distance sandwiched intense light.

Now I’ve got one heating pad on my lower back and one on my hips. I’m glad that K is due to arrive at Logan soon so that he and Finn can galavant together this weekend. I’m pooped. It was China AND Korea this time and he closed another deal.

As for Collage Month, I can tell you that I am very attached to the spooky silhouettes, the gorgeous dancers, and the references to flight made by wings, skateboarders, and that girl running up the steps.

Less enthralled with references to sight and vision. Tore out the drawing. The stitched bookcase. All clunky and obvious.

In every case, I prefer the digital rendering to the actual collage. Except maybe for the two below.

It occurs to me that in order to better experiment as well as to bring some of the pages up to where I find them exciting, I may be dissembling the sketchbook. Thank you resourceful readers for tips on glue. Will be trying them all out soon!

This morning I paired a beautiful profile of Prince with some Chinese round art, positioned like haloes. I want to find a place for him.

What you need

I have trouble remembering the prompts from Acey’s posts even after re-reading them. That’s a tell that I’m being challenged.

What would I want a care package to deliver?

The above collage was one response. Support for my writing, structure, a feedback loop of encouragement, praise, even. Success would be nice!

But the first thing that came to mind is how badly I want this world to have a future. That’s what those three polar bears symbolize: us having a future.

Ram Dass’s recent passing reminded me of a time I heard him speak at Omega Institute. He shared the stage with Marilyn Ferguson, who called herself a visionary Christian. The topic was the sustainability of human life. She advocated for passionate engagement to ensure our survival (and this was in the 80’s!). But Ram Dass sat there so alive, so fully in himself and asked, “why should I be invested in our survival? In one result over another?”

Lastly, here’s a response to a prompt in this morning’s writing class (“the slightest clue can give us away”):

Who says time is an illusion? Time is a beggar, banging on my door. Time is a thief, already past the alarms, helping herself to my almonds and honey. Time is a slut, prostituting herself for just a little more indolence. Time wears a bear mask one day, a griffin face the next, and comes as Snow White for the weekend.

What we miss what we glean

Interesting that I skipped right over Acey’s* Prompt 9

“BE the prompt you want to see.

Express what you most want, need, and seek as our shared landscape begins to look more and more like a collage project gone rogue and dark beyond salvation.”

This is what I came up with just now. Think: surrender and trust. The background looks like a world-sized globe but actually depicts teeny creatures. So — I’ll take the collage to mean I want surrender and trust personally as well as on a world-wide scale.

I don’t know what the tattooed quote says, but the inked wings on the dancer’s back are clear enough. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of the young — how they are the voters and innovators the world needs.

Meanwhile it’s a writing day.

Except that I just made these collages as well. More on them later. I had “care package” in mind making them. Took the stamps off a literal package that came yesterday (thank you, Michelle!!)

The dark-robed trawler is an old collage. The white silhouette new. I love how the girl climbing stairs has flung her arms out like the skateboarder. Like the wings.

Sorry if I am not caught up on others’ blogs. I feel stretched right now. But know that I’m loving seeing everyone’s’ creations and finding Acey’s prompts more than stimulating!

*

For info on this collage project see Acey’s blog sparklinglotusink

For more SoulCollage cards of mine, go to Flickr on sidebar and open the SoulCollage album. Or, track the ‘SoulCollage’ and ‘collage’ tags here on the blog

You might not know

You might not know how much of my psyche is wrapped up with wondering what it’s like to become an adult right now, particularly as a man.

I don’t realize the depth of this preoccupation myself until I start making collages.

Example: the SoulCollage card above. There are LOTS of examples.

For obvious reasons, climate emergency comes up. It is really hard to imagine 15 years out.

I glued a lot of paper into the book after dinner tonight, slitting compositions in half or thirds to fit on the page where need be. This will allow me to use remnants to create unifying repetitions.

Below is another one of my slide shows. I don’t know why this satisfies me so much. I don’t expect it to satisfy you. It’s worth noting that this process is NOTHING like working with cloth. I read Grace’s post just now where she draws parallels between cloth and paper and they are there for the finding. This is not that.

For info on this collage project see Acey’s blog sparklinglotusink

For more SoulCollage cards of mine, go to Flickr on sidebar and open the SoulCollage album. Or, track the ‘SoulCollage’ and ‘collage’ tags here on the blog.

Prompt 10

Prompt 10 – use paper that’s come to the table since beginning this month’s challenge or use paper that you did not choose.

Here, find a telescope from a catalog that arrived yesterday (to build on previous drawing and the words, “see further”).

Also, I raided the box holding the remnants of my sister’s clip file. After she died, I mailed pictures she’d clipped to members of the SoulCollage community all over the country — but of course, I kept some.

From Noreen: owls, polar bears, chartreuse Asian face and eyes, close up of raptor wing, bats, X-ray, starry night.

Nothing glued yet.

Skateboarding, fire, vision, the Middle East, climate change — all showing up.

I love how the extended arms of the boarder echo the shape of wings.

I also love the names of skateboard maneuvers, a whimsical, specialized vocabulary that I never mastered, even when there was a mini-ramp in our backyard.

In other news, I have symptoms of a cold for the very first since starting regular use of a netti pot five or six years ago. I feel like it’s more about humility this time than germs. No more obnoxious announcements about the netti pot!

For info on this collage project see Acey’s blog sparklinglotusink

For more SoulCollage cards of mine, go to Flickr on sidebar and open the SoulCollage album. Or, track the ‘SoulCollage’ and ‘collage’ tags here on the blog.

Draw a line

Prompt for Day 8 from Acey (see footer below) was draw a line then collage. I don’t like this result but I’m grateful for the direction because I was feeling constrained from making marks on the pages and very much wanted to.

I think “see further” might be a good refrain for what’s emerging here though. The binocular view finder a heavy handed but apt symbol.

Below are a few digital collages of other pages. I turned the big-hatted model into a tree just as I did James Franco.

Of the women collaged yesterday, she was the figure who held the most allure. She is on display for sure, but blocks her breasts with her arms and shields much of her expression under a huge hat. Being half naked but hiding herself is a posture not just of mystery but of control. What if it is SHE who is shaping her image and access and not the designer or the photographer?

Below, find the lines depicting worldwide food consumption trends (also from yesterday’s collages) paired with a solitary figure and, if you look closely behind the orange stripes, a monster.

Here is the book’s first moveable flap.

This cretin with his thumbs up was selected at the direction of picking something “other.” To see a crass salesman next to the pronoun referring to our middle eastern woman pokes at the contrast between Iraqis/Iranians and us.

For info on this collage project see Acey’s blog sparklinglotusink

For more SoulCollage cards of mine, go to Flickr on sidebar and open the SoulCollage album. Or, track the SoulCollage tag here