I finished a collage today. The collage came together rather suddenly after waiting up on the shelf for almost two years when I had woven paper cut from an old watercolor into a mat, fastened it to tin foil, glued it down on a sheet of 300# watercolor paper, 30" X 14.5" colored with tinted white gesso. And then I had no next step.
A new book arrived the other day, "Storytelling With Collage" by Roxanne Evans Stout. Inspired by what I read, I went in the studio and immediately saw objects I'd kept because I felt an attachment to them. I got the collage off the shelf and added the copper bird and the origami sun. I knew I wanted to echo the copper, the silver and the green so I called a friend who uses fabric in collage. She arrived yesterday with an armload of possible pieces and I began my first collage work with fabric. The collage also had another "first": using a lovely purple thread my same friend had given me earlier I had stitched the copper bird and 4 wooden beads onto the paper. Stitching on a collage was something I'd never considered before reading Roxanne's wonderful book.
I completed the collage and photographed it, rather roughly since I plan to frame it and keep it. I posted the photo on Facebook and a wonderful artist friend, Margaret Stermer-Cox suggested it could be a "totem". I sat down and examined that idea. A "totem" is a spirit being, sacred object, symbol, or spirit guide. A "totem pole" (and therefore a collage) has no religious significance and can feature numerous designs and can tell stories. My totem is "bird" and has been since I first identified it years ago. I had forgotten this and did not connect my use of a copper bird with my own totem.
In this collage a bird tops the design and is tied to the work, literally, with seeds or eggs. I would say that's me. Next is a clear geometric pattern, warm over cool, copper over green over blue/silver which ties to the words: "Thoughts of Spring. Rebirth. New Growth. New Beginnings. Coming Summer Heat. Retreating Winter Chill" which follow. Next is the origami Sun in the green of new spring growth with a sparkly gold center. Finally the fractured pattern, a reminder of the fragility of life, how easily torn apart it can be. This echoes what I've explored in my Desert Series, the lesson of the earth.
This collage most certainly is a "totem" and a story type. Roxanne pointed out in her book: "A collage is a story of this moment in time". As I studied this collage I realized I've been ahead of myself and of my conscious thought all along. I knew this was the trend two years ago. I just didn't know how to express it. So I learned a lot about myself and my art today, through the help of my friends.