Strange Diary or How to Make a Collage
I began this series of collages as part of The 100-Day Project. I vaguely knew about the challege through the magic of social media, but had never really focused on what it was. When a friend posted on Instagram that she was going to jump in, I decided I would, too, still not clear about exactly what it was I was jumping into.
The 100-Day Project was designed for people - not just artists - to commit to doing a single act every day for 100 days and to publicly document each of those acts. The opportunities for surrender and discipline and process were compelling...and terrifying.
At first I chose to make “something” every day, not one specific thing because that felt too constricting for my monkey mind (which loves to jump around and try new things). I was scared to commit to one thing only. But somewhere around Day 40 I did a drawing on a paint chip.
My partner, Maya Stein, and I had been using paint chips in a class we were teaching, first using the color names as inspiration for a piece of writing, and then as backgrounds for miniature pieces of art. I realized quickly that I liked the size and shape - and, surprisingly, the constraint of space. A few days later I made a collage on a paint chip. And then another. And then suddenly my project became “100 Days of Paint Chip Collages.”
My collages contain several elements. The first is the paint chip itself, followed by images - mostly photographs and magazine tear outs - and finally, a title for a “How to” book. These titles were given to us last year by friends and strangers who wanted to write a tiny book for our Tiny Traveling Library.
We were compiling the library to take on the road with us during our Type Rider II project, a month-long, 1,200-mile cycling adventure through the Midwest, during which we wrote poems for strangers and sponsored 25 new Little Free Libraries.
Each collage is different in the way it is organized as I create it. Sometimes I start with the paint chip, inspired by the name of a color. Other days I start with the collage elements first - a photograph from my family albums or a page from National Geographic that catches my eye. On a rare occasion, I begin with the Tiny Book title, but this is usually the last piece I add, enjoying the juxtaposition of the elements I have gathered partnered with a random title created by someone else.
My collages have each become individual personal statements of a sort because they are paired with my own writing, whether a memory has been jogged by the photograph I choose or a snippet from my current life, or a story from someone I know who has lost a loved one, or the yearning I am sometimes struggling with for the world to be different, more kind, more compassionate. I write about what is affecting me directly in the very moment that the collage is created, giving voice to the context behind the composition.
It is a strange diary of sorts, an incubator for my thoughts and my exponentially increasing hope that I will be heard and that my voice will make a difference to someone who finds my art. My work is a form of therapy and self-investigation, and a window into my ever-changing identity. I feel like the act of tearing apart images and reassembling them in a new and personal way echoes the way we are capable of taking risks and reassembling our lives at any given point, and listening to whatever it is inside of us that is longing for change.