Paper and Collage

My Earliest Art Memory:

           The oldest memory of an art experience I can remember occurred when I was three years old. I was enrolled in a Pre-K program that fully supported me in my ventures in writing my name as “Otto.” I have no idea where I got the name from, but I remember filling up pages writing “OTTO” all over the page while saying “O-T-T-O.” I think I enjoyed the fact that it was a palindrome. One night my parents went out and I was left in the care of my babysitter, Lauren. Lauren was an artistic fourteen year-old who would later pursue degrees in Art History and Visual Arts. I was sitting at the kitchen table O-T-T-O-ing with Crayola watercolors when she arrived. My parents asked if she could sit with me and try to get me to write “Casey.” After they left she sat with me painting pictures of her own. I was neatly swirling “Otto’s,” filling up the entire page with letters. I remember looking at her page of varying colors and tones, and saying, “I wish I could draw like you.” She said, “Write ‘Casey’ a few times on a new paper and then I’ll show you.” I never wrote “Otto” again. Thanks to Lauren I knew the color wheel before I knew the alphabet.


Paper Transformations

What two paper items did you choose to work with? What was it about these items that made you select them?

           I focused on the idea of “found papers” and used two random sheets I found in my apartment. The first was a white 8 1/2” x 11” piece of computer paper from my “Misprint” pile of papers, and the other was a peach “Missed Delivery” form from the USPS. I chose these papers because I felt the smaller size and lack of natural fibers or texture would be an interesting challenge.  

What were your initial thoughts as you began to transform the materials? What did you hope to accomplish?

           I was very inspired by the works Anita and Eunji completed in last weeks class. Eunji completed the ceramic-like rosette with many facets and folds, and Anita created the blue rope-like knotted paper. My initial reaction to the paper was to fold and crumble as much as possible in order to create a cloth-like texture. I worked the paper into a ball and rolled it between my palms over and over again. Through working with the paper, I eventually became less interested in making it look like cloth, and more interested in making into its own entity.  

How did you arrive at your method(s) of joining the pieces together? 

           I connected my papers together by using two different methods. Firstly, I joined some papers by twisting them together with the ends forming a single rope-like strand. Secondly, the orange papers were joined by piercing a hole in them and then using the while paper as loops to twist and connect them.

What ideas or impressions does your finished piece suggest to you?

  • Organic
  • Sadness
  • Left Behind
  • Forgotten

What about the piece makes you say this? In what ways did your materials become media—or means of communication?

           I was initially not very happy with the piece, but after the class discussion I felt much better about the work. I was originally focused on the failure to achieve the cloth-like aspects I was going for, but then was quite pleased with the result I got from letting the materials guide the product. I feel the work captures a “left behind” quality that would have been absent if the material worked in exactly the way I predicted.


Works by Classmates:


Collage #1: A collage “about” materials and their visual/sensory qualities (associations based on shape, color, texture, transparency/opacity, etc. and the meanings they suggest).

           I was attracted to this option because I wanted to do something that focused on the unique properties of the transparency papers. I wanted to create a collage using only transparency papers, and emphasize the color changes that occur when layering them upon each other. I used folded paper to build up the colors in a 3D manner, creating a greater opportunity for light and color variation. This collage is the least expressive of my three, but I believe would translate quite effectively into a useful lesson plan.


Collage #10: A collage that recalls a significant personal event.

           I was interested in this prompt because I knew I wanted to create some sort of beach scene, which has played an important role in many events of my life. Specifically, I created an abstraction of a campfire on the beach, which represents some of my best friends on Long Island. My material selection was based mainly on color and texture of the papers. I selected various shades on blue, green, tan, and yellow to represent the water and shore. I also used brown scraps, orange foil, and purple transparency papers to depict the campfire. I elected to keep the background flat, but use a somewhat 3D approach on the fire. I think the central placement of the campfire is visually awkward, but contributes to a more emotional response by suggesting the importance of this event.


Collage #17: A collage based on a still life.

           I did not initially plan on creating a still life, but as I began working on a different layout, a scene in my apartment caught my eye and inspired me to switch to the still life image. The selection of materials for this collage was the most complex and features the greatest range of papers. The window was created with vellum, the chair was newspaper, and the other items were selected based on color and texture that most closely represented the items in my apartment. I enjoyed this collage the most and was very pleased with the various details I was able to capture. The curtains are 3D and movable, the window is flat but still suggests dimension, and the shadows under the chair were quite accurate. I personally enjoy this collage because I see how recognizable it is to my apartment, but I feel others can appreciate it as well in the sense that it is clearly depicting someone’s home. I think the cat in the window also adds a sweet sense of quiet and warmth.   


Class Notes:


Contemporary Artist Inspiration:


Lesson Plan Ideas:

  • Using paper with other various materials to create a mixed media collage
  • Folding papers to create 3-D forms in abstract or narrative scenes