Sediments. Layers. Fragments. Calling up memories, revealing hidden ideas, conjuring a work of art out of experience. This is what we do every day in the search for meaning in life. Collage is my way of channeling all this energy into my art. I do not begin with an idea or even a theme. I begin with a piece of Chinese rice paper, a brush, and a stretched piece of Rives. Matter, not mind.
Words bubble up when they are ready and find their way to the surface. The process is physical, noisy, a little unsettling. Letters are pounded into the surface with metal punches and a hammer. Take a punch, place it, hit it. It’s more like playing the drums than writing a text. But a text emerges anyway. I am often surprised by the poetry that is born from this process. Parole in libertá. Words in freedom. They hardly need my guidance to settle into meaningful patterns.
You may say, “Brody, you are just delaying the moment when you have to take responsibility for the work you are creating.” You would be right. I put that moment off as long as possible. Finally, there is no choice. I have to look at the thing I have (not) made, read the words I have (not) written and decide how to complete the work. This is when I start to dig around in my trays of papers, sorted into colors, languages, centuries, variations of beige, ivory, and gray. Here it is! Just the piece I need. I paste it down and only then realize how perfect the words are.
The calligraphy is the hard part. What letters will complete the message? What associations, emotions, graphic values are needed? This stage can go right. Or very wrong. Another layer of collage is always possible.
Layers of thoughts, layers of words. What better metaphor for our inner lives?
I would love to share my collage process with you. My two-month online course, “Collage for Calligraphers and Other Artists” begins on March 6, 2023. Enroll at www.brodyonline.com