Maps in Collage

October 11, 2012

On Sunday afternoon, Sept. 23, 2012 I led a multi-age workshop at the Pelham Art Center. It was map-themed art-making for kids, teens and adults held in connection with the current exhibition titled Anywhere But Here.

The exhibition (September 14-October 27, 2012) includes 15 artists whose works interpret their world through maps and cartography.

Below is an image of a work in the exhibition by Dahlia Elsayed, titled Conjuring, Willing, Napping, 2011, acrylic on paper, 29×40 inches (image, courtesy the Pelham Art Center).

Dahlia Elsayed, Conjuring, Willing, Napping

Read more and see more images of works in the exhibition.

I am always pleased when I’m asked to lead a workshop in connection with an exhibition. I try to develop a project that relates to the exhibition theme that can be completed by kids and adults in the time allotted.

Sample Collage

I create a sample work that is meant to inspire the kids and adults in the workshop. I don’t expect them to duplicate the sample, and most times they create unique works, once they get engaged in their own art-making.

The image below was taken in the early part of the workshop (the numbers grew as more adults and children arrived). You can see the sample collage I made for the kids – A Map of My Day – on the table in front of everyone.

The collage workshop

I supplied all the dot papers and colored construction papers.  I cut the papers into strips before the workshop so everyone could begin to place papers and glue quickly.  The children loved the colored papers with dots and played with different ways to join the dot strips into unique dot patterns. They added cut magazine papers and drawing.

Collage Using Maps

In the image (below), a woman is cutting into a map (The Pelham Art Center supplied maps). I am standing in the rear at the end of the table. Many of the adults wanted to create a collage with an actual map.

map cutting at the workshop

In the photo, the boy next to me is drawing a map on brown paper. He and his brother wanted to draw maps – the older one wanted to draw a map of the world; his younger brother wanted to draw a map of Belgium. They were born in Belgium. Their father, not seen in the image, wanted to design a map of the American flag.

You see how independent everyone is.

Another adult in the workshop, an architect, was inspired by a work in the exhibition and wanted to cut a delicate pattern into a map. She created a fretwork pattern – a lacy design – that I believe was inspired by one of the works in the exhibition.

Below is one image that probably inspired her work. Its by Robbin Ami Silverberg and is titled Manhattan in Gold, 2012, MTA map, 25 karat gold leaf, 11×34 inches, edition of 5 (image courtesy the Pelham Art Center).

Robbin Ami Silverberg, Manhattan in Gold

The image below, by Cal Lane, is titled Topo Map #5, 2011, Plasm-cut oil cans, 3.6 x 3.5 feet, courtesy of Art Mur, a gallery in Montreal.

Cal Lane, Topo Map #5

Many contemporary collages are open-work, cut papers that look like fretwork. Many are installed as 3D assemblages. Fretwork is typically done in wood and metal, and is often  used to decorate architecture.

How I develop ideas for a workshop

I always visit the exhibition before the workshop, and see the works and notice what is also collage.  I am inspired by bold colors, texture and layering.

I liked the colors I saw in the galleries and was reminded of an image in a book I have. It’s titled You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination (by Katharine Harmon, Princeton Architectural Press, New York).

I prepared a sample collage to bring to the workshop, based on an image in that book.

I used papers I prepared in advance for the workshop – strips of colorful construction paper and photocopied polka-dot paper that I cut into several different widths that the kids could organize and embellish and glue down with glue sticks.

I assumed most of the participants at the workshop would be kids. I prepared papers that would appeal to kids. I hoped they would add their own drawing to the construction papers and be inspired by the drawings in the exhibition.

Below is an image by George Ferrandi, titled Recalibration Drawing #5 (poorly handled) 2012, pen on paper, masking tape, 20×25.5 inches, image courtesy the Pelham Art Center.

George Ferrandi, Recalibration Drawing #5

Below is another image taken at the workshop that shows the adults and kids and the table covered with papers and magazines. Everyone is busy cutting and pasting.

Colors, stripes and dots

Below is one of my favorite works in the show – titled Beneath the Rain, it’s by Tomoko Abe. It’s an installation, of handmade burnt Abaca paper, cast porcelain and resin hanging from the ceiling with light and imagery projected through to the back wall, that creates amazing light patterns. The installation is 68×46 inches (image courtesy the Pelham Art Center).

The exhibition Anywhere But Here is worth a trip to the Pelham Art Center if you are in New York. The works in the show are bold and beautiful, intriguing and elegant.

Tomoko Abe, Beneath the Rain II, 2011

It was an interesting experience for me to have a workshop with such a range of ages and focus going on – all at the same time during the 2 hour session. I hope everyone felt they were actively engaged in their own  map-making process.

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3 Responses to “Maps in Collage”

  1. Roberta Says:

    When I clicked on the link to the exhibit, somehow I found Robbin Amy Silverberg’s web site. I have been enthralled all day by her paper and bookmaking skills. Thanks for taking me on a journey today.

    • nikkal Says:

      Kudos to the Pelham Art Center for this exhibition. The artists included are really wonderful, and the installation is worth the visit – if you can stop by before the show closes October 27. Thanks for your comments.

    • nikkal Says:

      Collage is getting so connected to papermaking and becoming more and more 3 dimensional. It becomes installation and is very exciting to look at in the round.


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