The current show at A Small Art Gallery is the work of Brice Wood. He is showing screens, constructed reliquaries and collages. But what is a collage?
In the early 1900’s with the advent of Modernism, it is said that Picasso and Georges Braque came up with the term “collage” from the French meaning “to glue”. Arguably, the Chinese were probably engaged in gluing their new invention—paper long before that, like 200 years before. Nevertheless, its Picasso and Braque who brought it into mainstream Modern art (Well, it wasn’t mainstream at the time but that didn’t stop them obviously)
Collage is the act of assembling various components by gluing to a substrate. As a progression of the Cubist ideas, patterns, images, swaths of color, lettering and the like are arranged to accomplish the artist’s ideas and goals.
Many times the components of the collage; the scraps of paper, appropriated lettering, images etc., carried the message or emotion. Just as often the art was accomplished overall through the color, layers of patterns and shapes and design of the piece. I believe Cubism morphed from an experimentation in multiple perceptions of an image (seen from different views at once) into more and more abstract art by beginning with the collage. The collage freed the artist from the painted surface, it had an element of randomness (paper tears as paper will tear) and the brush stroke was not central to the execution or result as it was in impressionism.
While the two share the same idea of assembling many disparate parts to achieve an image, collage and scrapbooking, even when the exact same materials are employed, are very different. The difference is in purpose, goal, and outcome.
Where scrapbooking is engaged in memories and personalized connections, collage as an art form is concerned with image, emotion and personalized connections. What? “Personalized connections” is in both? Yes. The difference, and this is an important one, is this. That although both begin with the personalized input of both creators, scrapbooking is more concerned with memorializing one’s own experience as the central focus. In an art collage the genesis is the same but the intent is that the image evoke emotions, reactions, conversation generated from the personal resonance of the viewer. The difference is that the artist lets go of the art so that the viewer can complete it.
Brice Wood’s work in collage contains that contract between artist and viewer. One starts the conversation hoping the other will continue, else the work is incomplete. Certainly that is a foundational tenet of current art. The work doesn’t stand without the viewer, the audience, the community.