Are your eyes glazed over from flipping through the generic holiday catalogues that pack our mailboxes from Halloween on? Fingers numb from surfing websites in hopes of finding that special something for that special someone? Or, God forbid!, have you taken your life in your hands to brave pre-holiday parking lots as you trudge through brick-and-mortar stores?
This spring my Harvard University Reunion Committee commissioned me to design tabletop décor for the five-day extravaganza. The task: fresh, engaging, interactive décor, different for each meal, 7 meals over 5 days for 600 guests.
This collage celebrates The Boston Harbor Association’s restoring/creating 50 miles of waterfront walking trails in previously inaccessible or industrialized areas. The upper left (in black and white) reveals the industrial landscape that, due to TBHA’s extraordinary vision, has been preserved along much of this walking trail, which is really a trail through the history of Boston’s waterfront.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently created a list of 185 birds, fish, and animals that may well be extinct soon unless we take active steps to address this tragic scenario. Many of these species were once common on the East End of Long Island. This artwork depicts a few of our threatened local friends in their once pristine habitat: the North Atlantic right whale, the loggerhead turtle, the leatherback sea turtle, bay scallops, oysters, and hard clams, and the roseate tern. Imagine this landscape without these extraordinary creatures.
How does a collage come into being? Like all of my work, each collage starts with an idea, which I then transmute into visual form. Some of the process is linear and analytical (the R&D phase, when I’m uploading everything I can find about the issue, cause, concept). For example, in my recent collage for The Boston Harbor Association, I had to learn about the organization’s dual challenges:
Commissioned by The Boston Harbor Association for its 2015 gala, Rising Tide was inspired by the mission, accomplishments, and challenges faced by this amazing organization. The fences refer to the many miles of public walkways TBHA created along Boston’s historic waterfront. The buildings are Boston’s sky line, the backdrop of these open spaces.
Climate change, global warming—hot topics of debate and dispute, when anyone is willing to debate and not just debunk the other side. Scary (but still to most of us, remote) reports about glaciers melting in the Arctic, holes in the ozone layer, alarming increases in greenhouse gases pop up daily. Alas, aside from concerned scientists and a dedicated corps of environmental activists, most of us only respond to wakeup calls like the extreme weather that brought a devastating tsunami to Asia, Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans, and Superstorm Sandy to the Northeast Coast.
People often ask where art comes from—where artists get their ideas, and how they transmute them into drawings, paintings, sculptures, whatever. Welcome to my Work in Progress blog, where I will share with you where I am right now in my creative process, what’s gestating, where it “comes from,” what I hope to manifest.
Okay, it’s widely known, and I’m happy to admit, that I’m a Luddite in a virtual world. I record appointments in a fake-leather date book. I have an Iphone 4S, but I don’t know how to download apps, and I prefer to memorize my friends’ phone numbers to recording them in Contacts. My Macbook Air is stomping its little feet with impatience to help me do lots of things I barely understand.
How does my art come to me?
Unlike many artists, who start a work of art with an image that inspires them—something in their external or internal visual field that calls to take form as art. For me, art starts with a thought, an idea, an opinion, or a fact that inspires/disturbs/moves me, sticks to my (left) brain and won’t go away until I transform it into a visual work of art.