Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An assemblage of diverse elements

I've been thinking about what it means to create a collage; to take papers, cloth, diverse scraps from the mind's eye and bring them all together in order to create something new and heretofore undiscovered. In other words, to create new territory where there was none.

During this time, I've been listening to Divisidero, by Michael Ondaatje, in the studio and as I drive to work. The novel is a pastiche of exquisitely drawn characters, connected to each other in inextricable but mysterious ways. He uses the metaphor of collage to describe their connections:

"Everything is collage, even genetics. There is the hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly. We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border that we cross."

It makes sense to me, this notion. As I make my way across the collage I'm working on, I encounter shadows of several patients I've worked with,  a memory of filtered autumn light through studio windows and my earnest musing about appropriate titles. The name of a former piece echoes through several years, to me, this Virgo and I glue layer after layer of myself and my history onto a large and heavy panel. I listen to Ondaatje's words:

"Only the rereading counts, Nabokov said...For we live with those retrievals from childhood that coalesce and echo throughout our lives, the way shattered pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope reappear in new forms and are songlike in their refrains and rhymes, making up a single monologue. We live permanently in the occurrence of our own stories, whatever story we tell. "

What a pleasure it is to be back in the studio again, cutting and pasting cloth and words.


  1. What a wonderful way of expressing it, both you Ondaatje and Nabokov.
    Your page is a pleasure to set eyes upon. I've been in collage land lately myself and dredging up memories and scraps from the past in my writing recently as well so your post especially resonates with me now.
    xoxo Kim

  2. Lovely post Hannah!A good way to start my day, reading words that resonate with me too.... and your uplifting collage is the cherry on the top.

  3. Wonderful post Hannah, and stunning collage!

  4. Inspiring post. I've been quite into collage lately, not quite knowing which direction to turn. After reading your last line, "What a pleasure it is to be back in the studio again, cutting and pasting cloth and words," is the most inspiration quote in your post.

    I'm heading off to my studio to enjoy the pleasure of cutting and pasting. Thanks!!!

  5. so true hannah, all of life is indeed a collage...or perhaps one could even say all of life is the process of discovering the collage of our intermingling souls...something like that. Enjoy your studio time!

  6. Numinosity--Do you ever feel that making a collage puts you into a kind of timeless space where past and present overlap?

    Robyn--thank you! I'm happy that my words were part of your day's beginning.

    Thank you Dianne, I appreciate it.

    Kim, Artmaking is such a playground for the senses isn't it? Colors, textures, patterns, the smell of text from old books, the sound of music or words in the background...

  7. I have been sewing daily lately small collages crazy quilt I see a picture of one of them in YOUR sidebar right by this comment box. My pocketbooks...I love how the colors and designs, the batiks and the thread stitches all come together each finished "book" a series of surprises.

  8. Hi Hannah
    Such a lovely journey through the land of collage with your wonderful piece as a signpost pointing toward "to create new territory where there was none."
    I am feeling drawn to do that these days and I love your guidance.

  9. Laura, thank you--your comment about "intermingling souls" reminds me of Yom Kippur today, where all of us souls intermingle in one space, the synagogue, like one big human collage...on the path to rediscovering ourselves.

    Lynn, your pocketbooks sound intriguing and remind me again that the moment when a piece is completed, there is a kind of discovery--that new territory I was speaking of.

    Iona, thank you my dear--& I look forward to seeing where the blending of your curiosity with "lunasee" leads! I've enjoyed looking at your blog feed from your Linked In site. Very cool.

  10. this is beautiful! I am especially fond of the bird in the lower corner.

  11. wow.. love Ondaatje's words, Life truly is a big collage... multiple lives, multiple layers, all intermingling,connecting with each other, every piece a new life's experience, every color a new thought... thats what makes living it so worth while. I love the connection! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Its true--and what I find so riveting about his prose is that he takes the care and the time to describe the complexity of lives connected--in a way that creates a new layer, a new creation in its own right.