Saturday, September 21, 2013

Collage Art: Yes, it really is ART!

Sunflowers, 2010 by Lily Silver, featuring old photos of my grandma, my father, and some of my own photography.

About four years ago I discovered Collage Art.

Now, that might not seem too big of a deal for most people, as Collage art has been around for a long, long time.

But, .......

Consider this. I graduated from College as a History and Art major, and had MAJOR class training in many art mediums; painting, drawing, ceramics, fiber art, 2D art, 3D art, screen printing, printmaking, calligraphy and photography.  Photography was my main emphasis as an art student, but as a college art student you are required to take lots of other media classes to get well rounded in art. 

Detail of Collage 'Vanitas', 2011, Lily Silver

Above is a closeup of Vanitas, a collage I did for my son for Christmas. My son is a Graphic Artist, and was receiving a lot of flack from his teachers at the time for his dark, gothic designs. I made a collage of all the great artists, from Van Gogh to Warhol, who did skull art. The term for art that depicts the fragility of the human life is called Vanitas, and the great Dutch painters produced elaborate paintings  called Vanitas, with flowers, decaying fruit, knick-knacks, all in a still life with a skull. This is Andy Warhol's skull image, along with the text description of the Vanitas form of art from one of my art history textbooks.

Guess what, in all my six years of college, I was never once exposed to Collage Art, except for in Art History classes, (I minored in Art History), and even that was in passing. The professors and textbooks talked about artists who used collage as a medium in the early 20th century, and just brushed over it. Honestly, Collage Art is often dismissed as not  'True Art' by the Art establishment, as they feel it doesn't require as much 'talent' as other mediums.

Well, I beg to differ. After being trained as a professional artist at the college level, and recieving a Bachelor's Degree, I can tell you that Collage medium is not an easy nut to crack. I've worked at it, for four years, and I still feel at times that I am missing it, not really making 'good' art.  It's tough to come up with an idea and incorporate different techniques and make it all come out right in the end.
I've had some major baddies, some I threw out or gessoed over.

Vanitas, close up, showing various techniques, blending of paints, text and image applications to achieve depth.
 Above, I used techniques such as paint blending, stippling, stamping, and numerous layers of thin paint glazes to add depth to the canvas. I blotted the canvas with a rag to get the grey mist or cloud image below the skulls. I used the blade of a palette knife to make the long black lines criss-crossing the canvas after the other paint dried. Sometimes the paint blots that I create make abstract images that are haunting or unusual. I never know what images will emerge from this technique, but it's always rewarding. Sort of like ink blocks. 

But I still love it, and I keep doing it.  Why I love it, I'll get to in another post, but I just want to come out of the closet on this and let people know that YES, as a professionally trained photographer and artist,  I love Collage Art. I love making it, and viewing it.

I love to be able to incorporate my own photography into these abstract creations, and adding text to the visual, telling a story with pictures, as Anne Baldwin stated so eloquently in her book on collage art.  So,  I will continue to cut, paste, stamp, burnish, assemble, paint, and write in order to make a very complicated and abstract piece of art that the snobby art critics, art professors and curators will say with  disdain  "That is not ART!"

Blimey,  as Andy Warhol said "Art is anything you can get away with!"   Yeah, Andy, thanks.  I agree. Art is subjective, each person has their own opinion, their own likes and dislikes that determine if they appreciate a peice or not. But, respect the work of the artist, please, whether it is oil painting, watercolor, photography, or Collage Art that is their form. It takes a lot of work. I've worked on some collages for months, others for years, trying to get the right juxtiposition of images and text o make a stunning composition.

It ain't easy, folks. But it sure is fun. It's my game of solitaire. My way of relaxing and trying to play with images.

Lily Silver, Photographer, painter, Collage Artist, and proud of it.

Vanitas, 2011, By Lily Silver, featuring the skull art of Artists of the Ages, all duly noted in the piece.

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