Included in this portfolio of images are works that trace the history of my interest in and artworks using collage, as well as recent collages influenced by this trajectory. My work is abstract with many visual references including: the improvisational and emotional qualities of Jazz and dance; the sinuous gestures of an actor moving across the big screen; the tonal qualities of Film Noir; handwriting, urban graffiti and linear natural forms; the logic of architecture; and the colors in a landscape.
I am very aware of the importance of collage in forming contemporary aesthetics. As a method, collage encourages layering, shape-making and juxtaposition, all of which I apply to my work, from my paintings to multi-panel public works using expanded media. As a young woman artist, one of the important aspects of my research was to find role models and forerunners. I observed that many mid-20th century women abstract artists made collages, including Ann Ryan, Alma Thomas and Lee Krasner. This culminated in my essay written with Miriam Schapiro, “Femmage: Waste Not Want Not, An Inquiry into What Women Saved and Assembled,” published in Heresies’ fourth issue (1978). I discovered a collage sensibility was evident in quilts, devotional pieces and scrapbooks made primarily by women in the 18th century, far before Picasso and Braque. This collage sensibility, marked by recycling, mixed-media, making art from remainders and remembrances, is echoed in the mid-century abstractionists I connected with. A famous example is Krasner, who reused her works on paper in her collage works, both large and small.
In my own work, collage has played an important role in developing new ideas and reusing old ones, from “The Green Woman,” my early (1974) collage painting for Ms. Magazine, to my most recent work. Artist residencies have provided opportunities to connect older works like “The Green Woman” and “Provincetown Summer” to the newer collage “Rearrangement Series.” In my “Residency Sketchbooks,” from which I include specific pages, I cut up and combined watercolors in an improvisational manner, which directly inspired a group of works based entirely on cutting up and rearranging previous watercolors. Another influence in this series has been the late large collage works of Jean Dubuffet, about which I wrote an essay in 2016 for the popular Painters on Painting blog, and which I was able to revisit in an exhibition this past spring 2018.