For me, visual arts and specifically the genre of hand-cut collage is the most meaningful medium in my life. Collage allows the ability to find the pieces that speak most to the creative individual, whether that be in a magazine, on a mural, in a photograph or even words from a poem, or a short story, collect them, shift them around, and paste them together to eventually create a masterpiece from those collected pieces.
Collaging is essentially the embodiment of the participant. I believe the process of hand-cut collage is a semi-neglected medium of art. This medium has some incredible black influence, who have set the tone for its powerful existence, Lorna Simpson, Romare Bearden, Kara Walker, to name a few. Art is a healing tool, and it is infinitely more powerful and influential when you can resonate and see yourself within what is being created in front of you.
During our time in this lockdown and beyond, we can ourselves in collecting and curating a piece of art that can take account of our current evolution. I want to offer a step-by-step breakdown of how one can collage at home to provide spaces for black and brown people and communities to embrace and enhance their artistic abilities through visual aesthetics.
- 8×10 piece of printer paper.
- Piece of scrap paper
- Wax paper
- A heavy object (book, plate, brick)
Step One: Collecting Your Pieces
Page through some magazines, books, and even the internet, in order to find your desired collection of pieces for your entire collage. You don’t have to worry about collecting too much or too little, there is no limit.
Examples: a poem, pictures, magazine photographs, a line from a short story, anything you have in the house that offers you some sense of solace.
Step Two: Laying a Foundation
Set all your pieces you have collected to the side, look through them, reconfigure how you want them to flow through the page, think about how you want the format of your piece to look. I suggest placing the larger pieces down as a foundation and building your smaller pieces on top or around that.
Do you want to have blank/open-space? Do you want clutter and overlap?
Step Three: Cutting and Pasting
For this step, grab your piece of scrap paper, and use it to glue on top of, so your final paper does not have glue stains.
After you have laid out your foundation on your paper, and you feel content with how you have formated the pieces you provided, begin to paste them down with your glue stick, this may take some time and patience. Don’t be afraid to rework, or reshape your piece as you glue.
Step Four: Press Your Collage
After you have finished gluing everything down, place a piece of wax paper on top of your collage, and place an object of a heavyweight on top of the wax paper. Leave it for at least one hour.
You did it! The beauty of hand-cut collage is that no two people can make the same collage and no one individual can re-make a collage twice. If you try this more than once, you will see that you arrived closer to yourself by the end, but it was nothing like the last one you made. Proving the complexity and beauty lying beneath your humanity.
Every single time, one arrives at a new version of work that encapsulates who that individual is at that exact moment in time. Collage can function as a tool to assist in taking inventory of the practitioner’s evolution and expansion of self.