Much of your work in this exhibition is based on the interpretation of landscape. How did that come to be? The artist with whom I am exhibiting (Lisa Call) had mentioned that her work would present landscape, and I thought that I might also show a series of works that are organized around landscape and natural/botanical forms. Recently I have had many commissions where clients have requested that I create work depicting various types of landscape. This exhibition has given me the opportunity to present some of the preliminary collages from many of those commissions, along with related personal works. Now I have the opportunity to see many of these works, that had resulted in commissions in disparate locations, all in one room.
"Western" Collage 24" x 36"
The works "Western" and the triptych "Tumbling" are preliminary collages for larger commissions? Yes. When I am introduced to a client, through an art consultant, I am usually presented with the basic parameters of theme and proportion. The client is usually familiar with my work. The work will usually be situated in the lobby or offices of a health facility or corporate environment. The process to accomplish the larger works involves scanning or photographing my original collages and reproducing them as enlargements printed on wood or canvas. The starting point is the original paper collage. The theme may be loosely connected to landscape. There may be a wall with particular dimensions, and it may be requested that the art evoke certain feelings or include references to specific places. Once I am provided with these basic criteria I begin the artistic exploration.
"Tumbling" Collage 36" x 12"
Please describe that process. In the instance of "Western", I understood that that the image would depict aspects of the Colorado landscape. With "Tumbling", the physical site of the final commission was a vertical wall adjacent to a stairwell/elevator lobby. The idea of a waterfall seemed very appropriate. (The final reproduction of Tumbling is nine feet tall.) Once the subject is understood I consider the more abstract aspects of art. My art incorporates aspects of both representation and abstraction. The initial theme may connect to an objective phenomenon, however so many of the decisions that lead to the realization of that theme relate to texture, color, scale, and edge — concepts that inform abstract art. The processes that create these works are fundamentally abstract.
The collages are built from found papers. The primary sources are salvaged from magazines, discarded art posters and junk mail. Perhaps one per cent of my paper collection is filed by color for easy access. The remainder of the collection is simply thrown into bins at random. If it were any more organized I am afraid I would spend all my time filing elaborately… and wouldn't get any work done. When I begin a new piece, I will choose a palette of papers for their colors and textures and work from there, looking for additional materials as the collage develops.
The paper elements in the collage are ripped, never cut. I consider ripping to be an artistic gesture. Depending on the direction, speed and force applied, the character of the paper’s edge will vary. The resulting edges will affect the rhythm and mood of the work. My wet working technique, and use of a matte medium adhesive applied by brush, means the paper may stretch/shrink, and the ink may run or bleed. Because of the selecting and the composing, the ripping and the eventual fusing together of paper elements; I view these collages as composed or constructed landscapes.
Now that this work from various commissions is on view in this exhibition, do you have any reflections upon landscape? I enjoy taking the long view. Landscapes with expansive vistas and a deeper perspective can be soothing in ways that are personally profound. I find that these works convey a kind of solace that can be centering. They provide a counterpoint to the more chaotic aspects of my recent life experiences.
"Long View" Collage 24" x 24"
What are the things you like about collage? I like the activities of salvaging, re-claiming, and re-purposing visual content. I like making connections between disparate elements. Papers that may have been intended to serve one message are extracted from that context, and their inherent power and beauty can be said to be discovered, and liberated. These papers, maybe from an old magazine on its way to recycling, are given a new life, and a new purpose; in service of something else. The intention has shifted.
How has your work evolved? I will say that I am less tentative in my work. Over time my work has become more confident, and my attitude has changed. If something unexpected happens, I am more willing to be patient and see if this surprise can contribute to and perhaps inform the work. The process becomes a journey of discovery, puzzling out how to suggest a landscape from an assortment of collected bits and pieces of imagery and color.
Interview with Lisa Call October 3, 2015
Before we discuss the art in your exhibition, can you please provide us with an introduction to your art medium? Very few artists in this gallery work with textiles. I started out as a traditional quilter long ago - when I was in high school. I wanted to be an art major in college but my dad would not pay for art school so I ended up with a couple of computer science degrees instead. When I quit my job to become a stay at home mom I was bored and decided it was time to finally become an artist - when I looked around for a medium the obvious choice was textiles as I was quite proficient at the technical aspect of making a quilt. I do not refer to myself as a quilter because of its traditional connotations. The terms I prefer are textile artist; or simply, artist. I do not consider myself a fiber artist because I work with fibers processed into cloth, not individual fibers. People have a great affinity for textiles. We love to touch them and keep them close to our bodies. Our associations are positive and kinesthetic. Textiles work well in our environment, softening our buildings and quieting our rooms. In my work I use a densely woven cotton that is so that it can readily accept dyes. The batting is also cotton. While I was in New Zealand I used wool batting as there are more sheep than people in New Zealand and it felt appropriate to use local materials. I have a large inventory of thread - all a high quality 100% cotton. I have every color made by 2 different manufacturers (this is around 700 different colors). I keep several spools of each color on hand as I really dislike running out of thread mid project. The thread is the most expensive part of my artwork.
"Changing Perspective" Textile 36" x 96"
There is a large work on one wall, composed of 24 one foot by one foot fabric panels. The panels are arranged in a grid eight panels wide and three panels tall. This grid of panels is divided in half with labels, on the left 'New Zealand', and on the right 'Colorado'. Please tell us about that. A great deal of my time is spent hiking in the landscape. My home is Colorado, and I have hiked many of the "14ers". Last spring I was invited to teach art workshops in both New Zealand and Australia. The classes were scheduled for three weeks. Because of the distance and my interests, I decided extend my time there and enjoy a vacation. This work is an homage to the landscapes of Colorado and New Zealand.
Is the depiction of landscape an important aspect of your work? No. That is, not until this exhibition. Prior to this exhibit my work explored pure abstraction. And yet, in my work, I was beginning to feel that the exploration of abstraction was becoming too easy, or perhaps too formulaic. I wanted to challenge myself artistically.
Would you say you have met the challenge? I am very pleased with this exhibition. The work is unified by the color palette. The colors for the Colorado panels I developed here. For the New Zealand panels I created the color dyes while in New Zealand. The dyes were mixed on site, in direct response to the conditions as I observed them. There are subtle differences between those colors developed in New Zealand and those developed here in Colorado. Yet there are also similarities which connect the work. The work in this show is linked together by a horizontal line that makes its way through all of the individual pieces of art, and through the discrete panels that comprise some of the works of art. This line may vary somewhat, however it is a unifying thread. Many of the works are composed of groupings of smaller panels. As it was noted, one work has 24 panels arranged in a grid, another has 5 verticals placed horizontally. When the work is organized this way, each individual panel is viewed as a kind of snapshot. Each panel is a complete work of art, intended to stand alone, yet they are connected to a larger narrative. The term 'snapshot' is appropriate because each panel is meant to depict a particular moment in time, a particular aspect of the larger landscape that is presented. This moment may capture the light that occurred at that time of day, it may represent some unique aspect of that part of the landscape, and it may embody some mood that was experienced. The individual panels are roughly square or rectangular. However the edges are not straight. They undulate slightly. This to me is an essence of textiles.
These works are comprised of areas of color, of varying shapes and textures. Within the work there are continuous bands of contrasting color running in diagonals that break up these areas of color. These bands are perhaps one-half inch wide. What is their role? These lines have been with me since I began quilting when I was young. In some respect they are my signature as an artist. They serve as a pathway for the eye. Along with these bands are the countless rows of colored thread which serve to enhance the areas of colored fabric. These rows reinforce the color through a shared hue or they may mute the color by offering a contrasting hue or value. They provide an intimate sense of scale and tactility.
"Falling in Love Cape Palliser" Textile 36" x 60"
And New Zealand? In New Zealand I fell in love, with the landscape and with a man. It is such a quiet place. I really value the privacy. While working there I had a studio in a valley. In Colorado my studio is filled with light. There is an expansive landscape here that I missed there. I am very happy for this exhibition at Spark. This gallery has allowed me to present art in a way that many galleries do not. I have been able to explore a larger story. That is valuable.