Friday, November 8, 2013

Guest Blogger: John Andrew Dixon

This Collage Collaboration Hits the Bullseye by John Andrew Dixon

An increasingly engaging form of collaboration in collage is the coming together of a diverse group to explore the shared concept. Usually, the participants will artistically exploit a suggested image or theme, but no recent joint venture has taken on a life of its own like the extraordinary “Target Practice Project.” Launched on Facebook earlier this year by Laura Tringali Holmes, the initiative makes use of identical vintage paper targets magnanimously provided to those taking part. Anyone who reads her affecting backstory here:
will be primed to accept her challenge of using the distinctive target image as a key compositional ingredient. If one of the 1960s archery targets from Sears Roebuck is not available (there is now a waiting list), then a high-res scanned version is available to print or digitally manipulate.

When three paper targets arrived for me by mail, I immediately plunged into the process with enthusiasm, and I rapidly assembled a collage miniature based on the first idea that intuitively presented itself — had not a young president been slain at about the same time these original targets were produced? “Friday, 1963” is what I titled the result.

Friday, 1963

“Tir de Duc” was my second submission to the project, and I spent time considering more obscure symbolic associations.

Tir de Duc

The third paper target languishes near my work surface. A visual solution worthy of the new significance surrounding the international phenomenon now seems mandatory, and my initial spontaneity is difficult to recapture. Plus, like all working artists, there are numerous schemes and deadlines nibbling away my limited time. Collage artists could spend nearly all their available hours interacting with each other through the many collaborative formats that currently exist. It is important to find the proper balance between solitary investigation and the dynamic cross-fertilization so vital within contemporary collage.

As this outstanding series continues to take shape, I cannot help but bring to mind the Merz painting, “Hitler Gang,”
and how Kurt Schwitters (as usual) was just a bit ahead of us.

Kurt Schwitters, "Hitler Gang" c.1944
If he thought a target was an intriguing collage ingredient nearly 70 years ago, I am, for one, quite content to continue digging the ground he broke. At least, thank heaven, we are not fearing for our personal safety, as did he and other pioneers of modern art.

Schwitters said, "Merz means creating relationships, preferably between all things in the world.” One fine aspect of his legacy are the new connections and friendships that grow out of mutual interest in collage at the dawn of its second century. Perhaps the great German innovator might think we are right on target.

You can read John Andrew Dixon's blog, "The Collage Miniaturist" here:

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