In the first-ever collage exhibition held by the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution galleries, unique materials are on display at the Fowler-Kellogg Art Center until July 21.
“We always try to focus on shows we have not done before and we’ve done painting shows and we’ve done glass shows and we’ve done printmaking shows and we did a drawing show — we haven’t done a collage show,” said Judy Barie, the Susan and Jack Turben Director of VACI Galleries.
Barie said the artists featured in the exhibition “The Art of Making Collages” are working with a diverse array of materials, such as Bill Miller who reworks old linoleum, Kent Rogowski who creates collages out of puzzles and Debra Smith who uses vintage fabric.
Lisa Hoke, who has eight pieces in the exhibition, makes colorful installations out of packaging material like cardboard and gum wrappers and in the past has used zippers, skateboard wheels and even plastic cups.
Hoke said she enjoys the randomness of making collages, because she never knows what kind of things people will discard. Thus, when she creates her artwork, especially smaller pieces, she doesn’t usually start with a preconceived concept.
“I let the materials lead me into the pieces,” Hoke said. “It’s more joyous in the way that there’s not as much responsibility … The great thing is I can just snip off, I can start over, I can cut out whole areas and it’s a tremendously free way to work.”
Hoke said although her work is very colorful, that doesn’t automatically mean it is light-hearted in tone.
“People always assume color means cheerful, happy, whimsical,” Hoke said. “I find it’s not really those things, but it has an emotional impact … so part of what I’m interested in [is] where your whole peripheral vision is taken up with the color so that you’re confronted with it in a very aggressive way.”
She also said her work can be seen as an exploration into the ways people use color to influence the public.
“Color is used to control us in a lot of ways,” Hoke said. “Corporations will use orange or yellow or red in the way that they get our attention; … I’ve been very intrigued with this subliminal use of color to make us purchase something.”
One of the things Hoke said is special about making collages is the ability of artists to transform and manipulate material in a way that creating painting or drawing can’t do.
“Every artist that I see in some way, when they’re making a collage, they’re pulling material from somewhere else and reconnecting it before it’s applied to a collage,” Hoke said. “The artist is going through that transformation of the material, and that’s where the artist discovers who they are in a way [and] how they’re taking from the world and applying it.”