Students in a College Communication Course Describe Their Collages

Danesh’s Collage

In the bottom left corner you can see a butterfly. This butterfly is flying peacefully by the lake, enjoying the beautiful atmosphere and warm weather. The butterfly has very bright colours that can be seen from a distance. The butterfly represents beauty and peace. In the centre of the collage stands a very scary owl that is flying towards the innocent butterfly. The owl seems very hungry and vicious, and it’s trying to catch the butterfly and have it as its prey. On the top right corner of the collage, there stands a bear that is bathing in the lake and also looking at the owl as it tries to harm the beautiful butterfly. The bear represents sorrow and loneliness because it is witnessing the tragic act. Also, it feels sorry for the poor butterfly.

Ilhan’s Collage

This collage is meaningful to me because the collage I did was about peace. The main part of it is about how calm it is and how sweet also. The way it all falls together is so beautiful, yet they’re all different pictures that still fit all together. Nature is where I want to be because it is without phones, wifi, or the city. It’s just a place where you can truly be yourself and enjoy the outdoors. Why this is important to me is because I’ve always loved the outdoors and found happiness from it. The curiosity of the animal is so pure and about being around sweet things. Being outside to see all of the world has to offer is so beautiful in itself. From camping to seeing animals in their home and being in or around water is the most relaxing thing ever. Just being able to connect to something other than the world of communication is truly my image of living.

Lincoln’s Collage

I am trying to show that we need each other for survival. For example, bees need the flowers so they can make honey. They spray a liquid on the flower or on the plant so that it is good for human consumption. The flower and plants contribute to our breathing. They create carbon dioxide that helps us stay alive. Meanwhile, the owl in the picture will make a meal of the bee and the banana. The message that I am trying to convey is that we are interconnected, and we need each other.

Efaz’s Collage

There are several ways that my collage describes me. The Canadian flag describes my personality because I am too polite. The club party shows that I enjoy going to clubs as I find them vibrant and I like interacting with the people I meet. The swan describes my personality as I am amazing and easy to describe. The polar bear describes my personality as I am described as soft, cute, and short. The picture of the protest describes my concerns as I can’t tolerate racism.

Fara’s Collage

My collage allows viewers to learn many things about me. On the top left corner, I put Dior blush because it represents one of my favourite colours, pink, and it shows that I am very girly. The background of the makeup is purple hearts. I chose this because I’m a very caring, loving person, and purple is also one of my favourite colours.

Detail from Fara’s Collage

On the top right, I put flowers on the background of blue to symbolize good positive vibes, joyfulness, and beauty. As for the pictures, I put a girl dancing because I like to dance.

Detail from Fara’s Collage

When I went to South Africa, I petted a cute baby lion. It was so fluffy and soft. Although it is a picture of a tiger, I chose this image to show that I love animals. For my bottom left picture, it is in Japan and it’s cherry blossom season. I love travelling and a country that I would love to go to is Japan (and I also love music). Lastly, the picture at the bottom right represents that I like art. As for the gold, I have an expensive taste when it comes to fashion and sometimes makeup

Aaliyah’s Collage

First, my collage is meaningful because I’m artistic, and I love creating an image that fits my personality. It fits my daily moods all into one. I like to be basic and inspirational at the same time. I wanted to draw viewers in and show them what best personality fits me the most. Second, I would describe my collage as colourful, inspirational, different, and abstract. The meaning is I like everything to be colourful, have a background to it, and have a defined meaning or reason behind your design.

Detail from Aaliyah’s Collage

Coming up with different pieces of art that can be created in a way you see it, and others can’t. Third, take the time to really think about why you chose these images and plastered them onto your canvas. A person can tell you a lot by just looking at the image that you created on your own. It shows what your likes and dislikes are when you see it in person. Maybe your viewers have the same personality and thoughts as you because they see your point of view.

Omar’s Collage

We Are Not Perfect, But That’s Okay

Many of us have several ways to flip our lives back around, going through stressful situations emotionally and physically. “Getting back to our roots” is a way to explain how tough it’ll be through life. Showing the girl falling demonstrates how her emotions were completely falling and just giving up. The flip around arrow explains how the drop suddenly comes to show a slightly better outcome.

Detail from Omar’s Collage

The pattern blocks show the building up the courage to over conquer whatever it will be. Slightly upway through the building blocks, they suddenly seem about to collapse even though they are still standing. The shield with the multiple arrows shows how many thoughts are going through. The negative and positive are fighting the battle, being protective and trying to collaborate together.

Detail from Omar’s Collage

The rose with the heart shows how the negative and positive collate together to bring something beautiful. The arrow and the hexagon shape flare slowly, making its way through developing and throwing the anger and stress away. In the ending the flare will explode. The feathers or leaves expose the final outcome of someone. Even thought it’s not as bright, but we try.

Detail from Omar’s Collage
Donte’s Collage (text forthcoming)

Examples of ESL Students’ Written Responses to Their Collages

Sergi’s Collage, 2013

In the right corner, you can see a shark. He seems to represent fear. In the top left corner, this is a cute dog. It’s something kind, something good, something positive. You can also see the butterfly. And there’s a man who try to reach the stars.

This collage is about my thoughts about my life. Sometimes we hear a noise and we think that it is something dangerous. We try to turn back and looking what it is, but usually it’s something cute like this cute dog who want to play and make a noise. Fear pulls you back. If we release our fear, we can reach to the stars.

Joshua’s Collage, 2013

When you have some trouble, you must be like this woman and go ahead and keep going. Don’t stop. Sometimes when you get in trouble, your emotions is very dead. But sometimes in your life you can find little beautiful things that will encourage you, like a flower or a cup of cappuccino. They will let you have power so you can just keep going to face the trouble.

Geraldine’s Collage, 2015

When I came to Canada, I had to start again at the bottom. I struggled and had a lot of stress. The stairs show my difficult climb back up to success.

Organic Ice Sculpture Attached to a Branch Discovered in a Creek at Martha LaFite Thompson Nature Sanctuary

Turning the ice sculpture to find new angles revealed an astonishing variety of shapes and images: a skull, a bird’s beak, a face composed of vegetables like a 16th-century Arcimboldo painting, a baby elephant, a complicated internal organ, a collection of single-celled organisms, and an antelope. What else may be seen in this versatile and multi-faceted natural object?

The Missouri River and the Hotel Frederic, Boonville

Missouri River, Boonville
Missouri River, Boonville
Missouri River, Boonville
Second Floor Sitting Room, Hotel Frederic
Second Floor Sitting Room, Hotel Frederic
Second Floor Sitting Room, Hotel Frederic
Second Floor Sitting Room, Hotel Frederic
Second Floor Sitting Room, Hotel Frederic

Collages on the Theme of Resilience

The artwork pictured here represents a sample taken from roughly ninety collages that students in three sections of a class called A Wellness Approach to Stress Management produced on the theme of resilience. Many thanks to Donata Ling for inviting me and my giant suitcase of materials to her classes for several lively and rewarding sessions!

Overcoming Barriers with Collaborative Collage-Making (Session for Centennial College’s Teaching and Learning Symposium)


It was a pleasure to share a paper-strewn table with seven participants who made collages on the theme of Equity and Inclusion. As we gathered, talked, cut, and glued, the discussion centered on how to apply collage-making to a variety of learning tasks, such as presentations, vision boards, and reflective practice.

In a post-workshop conversation, one participant kindly offered to share some thoughts about her collage:

Donata Ling’s Collage

It’s your differences that make you you.
For each day that I walk into the classroom, it’s important for me that each student experiences a sense of wander like the expression of ‘Wow’ in the picture. Each student is on that journey to find wander and curiosity, which is made possible by asking questions and opening oneself to others and the world. This is what I have done through my own experiences of ‘wandering off the beaten path’ and seeing the world in its splendor and beauty. After cutting out the landscape image, I discovered a shape – the human face. It’s there that you can discover the difference in each student – in their expressions and more importantly their story (Donata Ling).

Many thanks to all who attended the session! Your insights, engagement, and creativity enriched my day!

Nails in the Tree: A Reflection on Trauma

Sylvan Park, Scarborough

I want to heal from the damage caused by two nails that have pierced me. Over the years, they have twisted themselves into cracked pockets of partial burial, digging in, holding fast to their reluctant host.

“Brace yourself,” well-wishers advise. “Just rip those rusty old bastards out and you’ll be free.” It is easy for my friends to say this, for they perceive the nails as separate and distinct from my flesh. They judge me for cleaving to familiar cruelties, the very devices that undermine my stability.

I miss the clarity of rage that met the shock of the first hammer blow and the next and the next. But I was young and did not understand how quickly righteous anger cools to self-doubt. Matching pain to resigned silence is a mistake that re-makes itself.

The man who held the hammer is long dead, but the nails he selected still insinuate, still ache. The memories sink more and more severely into my limbs each season, and their sharp points have become as familiar as shame. Although he never explained why he chose me to be punished, he was careful to convince me I deserved it. That way, I continue to self-crucify as he intended, a sadistic immortality.

The two nails drive his name deeper with every splash of rain on metal, every ice-storm that conducts more cold into my veins. Yet without this Frankenstein map of ancient injuries, who am I? If I am not splintered, how can I seize the audacity to be whole?