Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Collage Collaborative and Inspiration

Original Collage made by Wendy, USA

As many of you know, I am participating in an international collage group called The Collage Collaborative. In this group one person will begin a collage and then mail it on to the next person, who makes additions, and then mails it on to 4-5 other people for their contributions. When everyone has added something, the collage is mailed back to the person who started it off on its journey.

The image to the left is the first collage mailed to me here in Deep River. It came from Wendy in Idaho.  Each collage we work on is 5" x 7" in size. Each part of the image is adhered to the substrate with either PVA glue or acrylic gel medium.

Each artist will make their own statement about the collage through the additions they make. The overall theme of the collage may go through several versions.

My additions-off to Bobbie in Oregon
Here you can see the additions I have made to the collage. I added a vintage photograph of a steam ship from a travel book about South Africa that dates from the early 20th century. The colored images of the dragon fly, and butterflies came from a greeting card in my morgue box.

In creating my additions to this collage I consciously tried to work within the bounding box of the table that creates the frame for the image, while at the same time nipping "outside the box" with the dragonfly.

Many of the collage images I work with for my artist's book illustrations play with the idea of inside and outside of the box and the thin-ness of this distance, both physical distance and emotional or spiritual distance.

Working with this incredibly talented and giving group of international artists on this collaborative endeavor is serving to fuel my creative spirit. We have not met together physically, but are linked through the magic of technology and the internet.  Still,  I find the discussions we are all having on the Facebook chat page, as well as the individual emails and notes I am receiving from people, are helping to create a supportive, vigorous creative community. As I wrestle with creative concepts on the studio desk these days, I find myself reaching out to this group of people more and more to share ideas and discuss projects. It has been an incredible gift to my creative verve to be a part of this group. We are finding that our visual vocabularies are being welcomed, shared and expanded with each other. I feel with each breath we take and each stroke we make, as a group, that our creative bonds are stretching the limits of the intangible into the tangible for studio production.

Many years ago, "back in the day," as my daughter Kris would say, I was part of another creative group that was linked at first not by technology, but by shared space within a classroom.  I was blessed to be a student at St. Ambrose University and to study with the late Father Edward Michael Catich, a world renowned calligrapher, liturgical artist, stained glass maker, and teacher. Father Catich touched my life directly. Besides being my teacher, he was my priest and he was my friend when I needed both quite desperately.  I studied with him during the last year of his life and was blessed to be in an artistic community that was both inspiring and demanding. Not since those days have I felt the give and take of creative collaboration and inspiration that I am experiencing now being part of The Collage Collaborative.

It is this creative verve, this energy flow, that drives me to the grotto studio each morning. Always at the heart of my prayers is this text:

God be in my head and in my understanding.
God be in my eyes and in my looking.
God be in my mouth and in my speaking.
God be in my heart and in my thinking.
God be at my end and at my departing.

Working again with such an amazing, close knit, creative group such as The Collage Collaborative reminds me of the strength that comes from living within community, sharing within community, and creating within community. Inspiration is born from finding community and opening your heart to the possibilities presented to you as you live within it.

All will be well, and all will be well, and with the creative joy and grace of God, all will be well.