I mulled the creative assignment for a good long time (an important part of the creative process!). Reflecting the nostalgic theme of the essay and the visit, I chose to depict her library in a dreamy watercolor style, imagining it as vibrant and powerful, in a lush landscape. My collage technique is painstaking, in a sense “painting with paper.” I create images in which tiny paper elements become my pigment, plying the paper as brushstrokes, and developing complexity through construction. Bits of paper provide hue and shape, the embedded words and images imbue the picture with humor, meaning, and irony. I primarily employ scraps torn or cut from magazines and mail-order catalogs. For this piece, I worked in many book references, as well as elements that reflect upon Ann’s personal life. Despite the specific connection to a place and individual, this image has struck a chord with many people over the years, especially librarians, teachers and bibliophiles. I was very pleased to have had to the opportunity to create the collage, and delighted that it had meaning to many, especially the people of Salamanca, New York.
16 x 12
I created the collage “Carnegie Library” as a part of a collaboration with a friend, Ann Screckengerger. She recently had made a nostalgic trip to her home town of Salamanca, New York, and visited all the places that impressed her in her childhood. One of these sites was the place that had a powerful impact on her imagination, her beloved library. During Ann’s childhood, the public library was housed in a magnificent Beaux Arts building, a “Carnegie” library, so named for the industrialist benefactor Andrew Carnegie. Much to her shock, the library had been abandoned and all the books moved to a more modern and convenient location. She photographed it nonetheless, and later went on to write an essay in which she recounted her memories of the library and its lovely features and the impact on her life. She asked me to create a collage image to accompany the essay, and we entered the collaboration in a local art show called Art + Image.