A mosaic of stones, coins, and jewellery had been growing in our front garden box since May, but it wasn’t until late August that the idea for a heart border took root. Heart-shattered by the hatred in Charlottesville that led to death of Heather Heyer on August 12th, gathering these shards and bits of ephemera into a positive shape helped raise my spirits. A couple of weeks after the August mosaic-shaping, I was in the process of adding more buttons and beads when my neighbour and her four young daughters came over to look at the garden heart.
Hoping that mosaic-embellishment might be entertaining for the children, I entrusted them with my box of decorations and went to fetch some glue. I was very grateful for the girls’ collaboration, for thanks to their sowing of beads, bedazzling of flowers, and gluing of googly eyes, the heart mosaic became more alive. Before taking off for a dinner engagement that evening, I went back inside the house to gather more supplies and offered them to the girls for their own outdoor art. By the time I returned from the outing, a box of soil containing the gorgeous composition below was sitting on my neighbor’s lawn.
The children’s artwork affected me deeply, and I found myself wishing its creative faith could dissolve destructive ideologies once and for all. What if a box of dirt, flowers, and love could reach people like the 45th president who lean dangerously towards fascism? No matter their current spiritual condition, a Peace and Love Art Box could remind them that once, long ago, they might have lovingly spelled God’s name on a leaf with glue or promoted peace with pebbles, paper flowers, and pennies.
What stops humanity from planting love instead of hate when heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, Medgar Evers, and Heather Heyer paid for Love’s truth with their lives?
This photo of an autumnal scene inspired a collage that emerged in spring.
Response to the Tapir’s Night Journey Downstream
Transitions define my body.
Look how the current splashes my legs turquoise,
the moon silks my chest,
and wild solitude cools my nimbus to blue, white, and lavender.
Behold the purple eye that guides my canoe down the Amazon,
riding the night rapids in a dream of passages, openings, and
And see how curving shapes in the dark transport me to waterways
that empty into wider and wider rivers
until the open Atlantic receives my vessel at journey’s end.
In this collage series inspired by sea and river voyages, shipwrecks tilt on the ice, abstract shapes go swimming, and an arctic hare chews on a twig. Meanwhile, a famous Norwegian explorer inhabits a turnip-shaped kayak, and a tapir chooses a canoe for his journey downstream.
(This collage has a poem to accompany it!)
From the depths of keepsake piles in my mother’s house emerged a Father’s Day card and a birthday gift that I made in the 1970’s. The inside of the Father’s Day card contained a car and some of my thoughts.
The second piece of 1970’s ephemera was a birthday gift for my dad. It was a hand-taped envelope made from lined notebook paper that contained watches that I’d cut out from magazines. (The coffee stain is original).The long-ago selected watch photos and text from the card inspired a second collage for my father.
Dad, thank you for keeping the cards that I made for you so many years ago. And thank you most of all for being such a fun, supportive, and loving father. I miss you!
To make the floral river, I used handmade papers, fabric flowers, ink, and paint-pens. I hope the river is a cheering river!
Even though I never met David Oliver in person, his larger-than-life presence on Facebook made a deep impression on me. Through a hometown connection to his son Brad, I learned about David’s efforts to create a compassionate model of end-of-life care. I also discovered how much Brad and David loved Rush after a double-strength dose of Oliverian charm persuaded me to send both men Rush stamps from Canada in 2013.
Both in death and in life, David has inspired me, and I hope his love of travel, nature, family, and the black and gold of the Missouri Tigers is reflected in this collage. Brad told me that haiku was one of David’s favorite poetic forms, and the three arches (a reference to trips to Istanbul) each contain one line from a haiku of David’s. May “Living the Moment” do justice to a brave man who embodied the art of living like a cosmic force of joy that came to Earth to be with us for a little while.
As a mostly self-taught collage artist, I had never studied the medium formally until I took an eight-week course this fall. I am so grateful I decided to attend Donnely Smallwood’s class at the Toronto School of Art, for it helped me look at collage through fresh eyes and taught me new techniques.
Constructing and deconstructing this collage has given me the chance to play with ideas of aging, identity, and the artifacts of external validation such as grade reports, standardized test scores, photographs, newspaper articles touting achievement, and even a badge from a 1987 teen pageant that I attended at age 18. It felt cathartic to glue down and tear back these defining layers of personal papers, creating something new from the documentary “evidence” of academic perfection and parental approval, examining the official proof of my self-worth.
The following photos show the process of collage and then décollage that constructed External Validation 1987.
Along with flip flops, sunscreen, and a hat, I did not forget to take my collage bag with me on vacation! I made the following collages on rainy days and quiet evenings in a hotel in Elliot Lake, Ontario.