Museum of Art’s ‘Remix’ explores world of collage

An untitled mixed-media collage from 1982 by Miriam Shapiro.

An untitled mixed-media collage from 1982 by Miriam Shapiro.

For one of its two winter exhibitions, the Bates College Museum of Art focuses on collage, a genre often underrepresented in Maine’s art scene.

A wide-ranging survey of collages, curated by the International Collage Center and Bates museum curator William Low, Remix: Selections from the International Collage Center opens on Thursday, Jan. 23.

A reception for Remix and its companion show, How to Make the Universe Right: The Art of the Shaman in Vietnam and Southern China, follows a lecture at 6 p.m. on the 23rd by Trian Nguyen, associate professor of art and visual culture at Bates, in Room 104 of the Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St.

An extraordinary selection of painted scrolls, masks and other objects used in shamanist ceremonies of five ethnic minorities in northern Vietnam, How to Make the Universe Right is based on recent research by Nguyen.

NOTE TO READERS: The March 12 lecture by ICC founder Pavel Zoubok has been canceled due to a predicted snowstorm.

The exhibitions appear through March 21. The museum and its programs are open to the public at no cost from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and until 7 p.m. Wednesdays while Bates is in session. For more information, please call 207-786-6158.

More about Remix

  • A work by performance artist and collagist Alfred Earl Hansen that consists of Hershey chocolate bar wrappers Xeroxed, cut up and reassembled to tell a sort of love (or lust) story.
  • A blanket-based collage that references memory, family and the African American experience by Radcliffe Bailey, who says his “art is about history and the mystery of history.”
  • A collage rendering of a child-Jesus icon by Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, whose mixed-media works express a trashy opulence concocted from household items and dollar stores.

These are a few works from Remix: Selections from the International Collage Center, an exhibition emphasizing contemporary production in the fertile field of collage.

"Orange and Black Bird" (2012), mixed media on paper by Tony Fitzpatrick.

“Orange and Black Bird” (2012), mixed media on paper by Tony Fitzpatrick.

Remix is an exhibition of works by more than 50 artists whose diverse approaches to collage illustrate the incredible range of the medium,” says the Museum of Art’s Low. “The result is a dynamic and engaging show.”

Low curated the exhibition in conjunction with the ICC and with the assistance of curatorial intern Becca Rosen, a senior art and visual culture major from Newton, Mass.

“Collage is an important movement throughout Modern and contemporary art — but often overlooked and under-appreciated,” says Low.

If the basic techniques of collage are much older, this art form is thought to have “arrived” about a century ago with Modernist artists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. They were the first to use the word “collage” — a form of the French word “coller,” meaning “to glue” — to describe their assemblages of disparate found objects.

Remix is a touring exhibition produced by the ICC. Based in Milton, Pa., the center is dedicated to the appreciation of collage and its related forms, from Modernism to the digital age. The ICC maintains a permanent lending and research collection, and its programming promotes community and scholarship within the field and beyond.

Linking historical and contemporary approaches to collage, Remix explores seven dominant themes in collage — among them, the relationship between collage and poetry, collage as an extension of painting, and the use of collage in cultural, social and political resistance.

The engine of collage, the manipulation and juxtaposition of appropriated materials, affords expressive possibilities rarely found in other art forms. “There are great opportunities for interpretation and discovery,” Low says. “Process is evident when viewing collage, providing opportunities to relate to other media, other forms of art making.”

Rosen agrees, citing the excitement of coming to grips with the 50-plus works in the exhibition. Her responsibilities as an intern included working with Low on selecting pieces from the ICC’s lending collection.

“Some of these collages are very in your face,” she says. “It’s really interesting, and fun, to look at them and figure out what’s going on.”

Finally, Low says, collage is a distinctively topical art form. “It’s often a way for artists to depict ideas that are present or relevant in their time. It’s a window to contemporary cultural issues, whether social, racial, environmental or gender-related.”

Learn more about How to Make the Universe Right:


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