Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Collage as art, souvenir, and meditation

When I'm not telling stories in words, I tell them with images through collage. I have always found comfort and creativity in the cutting and pasting of images that catch my eye. I'm not an artist in the traditional sense, but I am able to create something unique and beautiful through my collages.

I have created collages for most of my travels abroad. These souvenirs are my answer to scrapbooking. The benefit of the collage for me is that when I hang the framed collection of memories on the wall, I can relive my trip every day rather than having to pull a photo album off the shelf, which I likely wouldn't do.

Like succinct writing, collage requires an economy of images to tell the overall story. There isn't room to include every photo from the trip, so I choose the ones that help tell the story best.

This past Christmas I used my collaging skills to create a gift for Cadence. I had a Coldplay calendar that had been a prized gift from a friend in the UK from a few years back. I decided to dismantle the calendar and to choose images to create a memento to remember our summer Coldplay concert experience. I chose a calendar page for each of us and then created notecards from other images. I enjoyed giving the calendar a new life through the collages and notecards. It seemed a better way to honor my friend's gift than to let it collect dust on a shelf somewhere.

This is the collage I made for my daughter. It includes a LOVE pin they handed out at the doors, confetti that fell from the ceiling, and her ticket stub.

I wasn't prepared for her reaction. “This is one of my favorite gifts! I love it. Thank you so much, Mommy! Can I take it with me to college?”

Her reaction restored my faith in the idea that handmade gifts carry a lot of weight and meaning. And that the best gifts don't have to cost a lot of money.

She's commented about her collage repeatedly since Christmas. When I asked her why she loved it so much, she told me, “Because it's a good memory from an awesome concert.”

That's exactly what I wanted it to be for her. That night in July was pretty amazing. I hope when she looks at the collage she remembers that our seats were close enough to the floor that she walked away from me to get a closer look at the lead singer, Chris Martin, as he walked through the audience. I hope she remembers the excitement she felt when she returned to her seat and yelled, “I touched Chris Martin's arm!”

No matter how big a fan I am, I would never have had the gumption to reach out to my favorite singer. Never. Not in my forties, and definitely not when I was nine. Her moxie in that moment made me admire her even more than I already did.

This weekend I felt a little restless, so I worked on my collage to complete the Coldplay collection. With scissors, rubber cement, glue gun, and quiet creativity at the ready, I put the elements of my collage together. The process was like meditation. I quieted the noisy chatter in my mind with each snip of paper and swipe of glue. It is true: art heals and soothes and makes the world better.

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