Saturday Studio: It’s About the Art not the Artwork

Naomi Vanderleest, Education Assistant

A collage is an artistic composition consisting of various materials such as photographs, magazine clippings, and pieces of paper that are arranged and glued to a backing (usually paper or canvas). The Fort Wayne Museum of Art doesn’t always have collages on display, but some caught my attention in the exhibition Next Wave: New Contemporaries of the Abstract Art Movement.  

Carlos Mare, American b. 1965. It’s about the ‘Painting’, NOT, the ‘Painting’ series. Aerosol and latex paint with faux brick, 2022. Loan from the Artist. Photo courtesy of FWMoA.

What drew me to these was their medium; at first, I wasn’t sure what they were made out of. Upon closer inspection, I noticed how the pieces curled, and looking at the side of the backing you can see thick layers stacked one on top of the other. Reading the label explained my findings, they are made out of aerosol and latex paint. The artist removed this paint off of a wall and hung it up on a new one. Carlos Mare is a street artist that goes by the name M139. Mare explains that this series recognizes the shelf life of urban paintings. Mare collected peels of these decaying works to reconstruct them and give them new life. Instead of putting all of these pieces back together, the artist creates something we haven’t seen before. I was most drawn to The Assembly of the UnNamed 2

Carlos Mare, American, b. 1965, The Assembly of the UnNamed 2, from the It’s about the ‘Painting’, NOT, the ‘Painting’ series, Aerosol and latex paint with faux brick, 2022, Loan from the Artist. Image courtesy of FWMoA.

I admire the connections the artist made in this work; some lines are connected, creating a path for us to follow. The artist doesn’t create any recognizable shapes, inviting the use of our imagination. What do you think this painting used to look like? The bold lines remind me of letters, so maybe this work used to be a word. Carlos Mare inspired me to make connections with artworks that were created in the John S. and James L. Knight Learning Center here at FWMoA.

Previous visitors to the museum like to display their artwork here; but this work doesn’t stay forever, and some are saved in storage for projects like this! Do you have any old artwork that has started to age? Reinvent that work by turning it into a collage! You will need these materials:

  • Artwork on paper (you can use one artwork or multiple)
  • Glue
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors

Even though Mare only used one painting to create his collage, that doesn’t mean you have to! Select multiple works to create a new combination of art. When selecting artwork I looked for colorful pictures to create variety. Variety is a principle of art that uses different qualities of visual elements to make the work complex. Next is my favorite part, deconstructing! Start to tear up the work (there is no wrong way to do this). I recommend leaving a portion of the artwork untorn; then, when you are almost finished, use the scraps to tear specific sized pieces to fill in blank spots. Allow pieces to form naturally, different sizes and shapes can create various combinations. I didn’t make any pieces that were smaller than my fingernail, that way I don’t have too many pieces, which could take longer to create an image. Below are some examples of the pieces that I created by tearing an cutting:

Once you have a pile of pieces you can start to put them back together! Look for ways that you can connect fragments through line, shape, and color. When an idea starts to form, glue pieces onto a sheet of construction paper. Don’t be afraid to work in different corners and directions, everything will come together in the end. As a finishing touch, use a pair of scissors to cut off the excess on the edges of the work. A new image has emerged! What do you see in my collage?

The first thing I notice is the sun in the left-hand corner, a common detail in the John S. and James L. Knight Learning Center artworks. Creating this collage gave new life to something that was collecting dust. What do you think this work used to look like? Share your work with someone and ask them what they see, you might be surprised by their answer! Invite your friend to create a collage, too! What is different about their work? Maybe you can figure out what it used to look like. 

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