"Rad Talk" is a new column running on The Emma Edition, for 2013. In this column I interview creative people who make my life all the more rad and whose work I think deserves a wider audience. I’ll be giving them a forum to speak on things they may never been asked in a typical interview. Today I am featuring collage artist, Adrienne Slane. A new interview is posted on Fridays.
Q: What is the process of creating one of your art pieces? Do you serendipitously stumble upon an idea or is everything very meticulously planned out?
A: “As I am working, I create some basic concepts in my head based on what materials I have gathered. If I meticulously planned out an idea, I would probably never be fortunate enough to find the exact materials to complete it. Therefore, I allow what images I do find to ultimately determine my finished pieces. When I lay out all my collage elements (paper insects, flowers, birds, shells, bones, etc.), I begin to mix and match them like puzzle pieces. I can have a general idea of my composition, but the process involves a lot of fluidity. I am always surprised by how a piece looks when it is completed.”
Q: Where do you find the materials for your collages?
A: “Searching for materials for my collages is like a treasure hunt. Because I like to have a physical response to the materials I select, I hunt for old naturalist field guides, dictionaries, anatomy/medical books, religious prints, etc. at library book sales, used book stores, antique stores, and garage sales as opposed to buying them online. The illustrated material I work with needs to have a certain feel to it that only comes from older sources, so I tend to buy books and prints from the early 1800s to mid-1900s. It is time consuming to search for my materials, but completely worth it!”
Q: What would be your dream subject for a collage?
A: “When I travel, I seek out natural history museums, medical museums, curiosity cabinets, and library collections. I fantasize about using the amazing illustrations from the old books, manuscripts, and charts I see within the collections for my collages. But, truthfully, I would never be able to cut them up!”
Q: Why have you chosen collage as your specific art medium?
As long as I can remember, I have been cutting out pictures and text from magazines and books and filling categorized file folders with them. I find something satisfying in the obsessive nature of cutting out thousands of compelling images. Also, the time and attention required to excise a detailed image, especially one with hair-thin appendages, gives me the opportunity to study the illustration in great depth. Collage allows me to make something new with elements of something old. I can create a contemporary piece from elements that reflect a different time because I am using images that have a style, content, and texture specific to decades past. However, I will never limit myself to working solely with collage. I also enjoy such processes as printmaking, photography, drawing, and felting.
Q: What interests you about the natural world?
A: “My interest in the natural world began as a curious, little girl playing outside in my backyard and woods. I was always collecting insects, moss, rocks, flowers, and other wondrous specimens. That interest developed into a scientific one during school. Now, I am interested in a meeting of the scientific and the fantastical, which was something celebrated and categorized in the curiosity cabinets in centuries past. I appreciate the fascinating, seemingly-too-odd-for-truth facts which proliferate in the natural world, as well as nature’s incomparable aesthetic beauty and its ability to inspire myth and wonder. My collages are a weaving together of scientific and mythical elements to express my own sense of wonder and to evoke wonder in the viewer.”
Q: Are you very religious? How do you see the intersection between religion and the modern art world?
A: “I grew up in a Catholic family and attended Catholic school through high school and attended church at least once a week. I have become very attracted to Christian iconography and ritual, but purely in an aesthetic way. I am particularly intrigued by the power these portraits and ceremonies have to influence thoughts and emotions. I have crucifixes, rosaries, saint ossuaries, and religious statues and prints scattered around my room and studio. Although I am not a believer, I treat those objects with respect. Christian iconography is very visible in my work, with images of saints, crosses, and sacred hearts in my collages. I am interested in the meeting of science, myth, and religion. In times past, the line between fact and the fantastical was less defined-- that is a mindset that I relish. Of course, the majority of fine art was expressly religious for centuries, becoming predominantly secular only in the last couple hundred years. Yet, many contemporary artists still explore religion, or the larger facets of spirituality in their work.”
Q: How do you think living in Ohio effects your art process?
A: “The majority of my life I have lived in a pretty rural area. Right now, I live in a house where I can go out my back door and walk into a woods. I love exploring the nearby forests and countryside and collecting specimens. My room and studio are filled with stones and rocks, dried plants, branches, bird nests, animal bones, and seedpods. I have shells, driftwood, and other shoreline detritus from my adventures at Lake Erie and along the Chagrin River. My collages reflect my love for the natural world and my acknowledgement of the cyclical aspect of life, death, and decay that I witness every time I venture outside. I have also spent a lot of time exploring the nearby city of Cleveland, a place that has a very special spot in my heart. As a post-industrial city, there are so many visible layers of history and decay that I find incredibly beautiful. Though it is often subtle, there are also signs of history, wear, and decay in my collages.”
Q: A lot of your pieces are a bit of an optical illusion. Are you interested in creating or referencing psychedelic or optical images at all?
A: “I did not intend to reference psychedelic or optical images in my work, but I have had a lot of viewers mention it. As I create my compositions, I think of each little element as a piece of a puzzle. The pieces fit together very specifically to create a larger, more solid shape. My hope is that viewers will step in closer to examine the individual elements. In almost every piece, I hide an image that has symbolic meaning such as a key, an hourglass, or dice. I like to have a little surprise for people who take the time to observe my work closer.”
All images from this interview are courtesy of Adrienne Slane
Q: I recently co-founded a website called The Do Not Enter Diaries, which tells the stories of teenagers through their bedroom. What was your bedroom like as a teenager?
A: “My bedroom as a teenager was not too different than it is now. I simply hadn’t amassed as much precious ‘stuff’ yet. I have always considered my room to be a map of my history. Everything in it holds a connection to a specific person or experience in my life. My room has always been intensely personal, eccentric, and cluttered-- a big curiosity cabinet of sorts. As a teenager, it was filled with artwork, family heirlooms, old photographs, jars full of shells, quirky toys, plants, books, old tools, etc. and now it is overflowing with even more. The walls are decorated right to the ceiling and every horizontal surface is filled as well. I am the knick-knack queen of art and oddities.”
Q: Anything else you want to add?
I have a blog that gives more insight into my artistic process and the things that inspire me on a daily basis: http://thelittlesunblog.blogspot.com/
To learn more about Adrienne Slane’s work, click here.
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