The word “collage” is from the French, a coller, meaning “to glue.”
Kindergarten is a place where glue stands out in the memory.
Back then, glueing bits of paper, and other things, onto other paper exercised that deep imaginative realm of the mind that allows art to flow freely; without boundaries. Of course, it was all made even more satisfying by the cinnamon graham crackers and cold milk received afterward with which one sat while gazing at the glorious works of unfettered form made by fellow exquisite 5-year-old imaginations.
But thanks to the Northwest Collage Society, one no longer has to be 5 to let the glue monster shine.
Rob Schouten Gallery at Greenbank Farm presents the Northwest Collage Society Juried Spring Show through April 4, with 28 collage artists who were especially invited to show their work and who explore a wide variety of styles and expressions in the 45 pieces represented.
The pieces were chosen by judge Carla O’Conner.
An accomplished and noted artist in her own right, O’Conner has juried and judged numerous regional and national exhibitions.
“I think viewers to the exhibit will be surprised to see so many different approaches and combinations of materials to the medium of collage,” O’Conner said.
Although the works in this show are kept fairly small due to the size of the gallery, collage artists, O’Conner said, often work in very large formats, as well. The work is not one’s typical childhood memory of collage. She said styles vary from completely non-objective, which reveals no recognizable object in the work and focuses more on feeling, to semi-abstract and realism.
“There are some quiet, sensitive — almost whispering — pieces, and also bold, strong, dark and shouting works,” O’Conner said.
“I was struck by the range of materials used, even encaustic and found objects, and no longer limited to just paint and papers adhered to a support,” she added.
NWCS is an affiliate of the National Collage Society, established in 1984 to advance the stature of collage as a major art medium. This year marks the 100th anniversary of collage as an acknowledged fine art medium. The society has been working and exhibiting together for many years in Washington and in recent years has expanded into Canada and neighboring states.
When she judges a show, no matter what the medium, O’Conner said she looks for strong design and composition, as well as the artist’s degree of understanding the medium.
“But above all, I look for the artist’s ‘voice’ and personal integrity,” she said.
“Artists choose a particular medium over another because they feel it achieves their vision the best.”
In this Spring Show at Rob Schouten Gallery, O’Conner said she is impressed also with how well the works were framed and presented to the viewer, and the fact that all of them are reasonably priced for the original, one-of-a-kind pieces that they are.
“It was my honor to be this year’s juror for NWCS,” she added.
Go see the show and then ponder the work over some grahams and icy cold milk.
Call the gallery at 222-3070 for more info.