The Story Behind My Magazine Paper Collages
My Magazine Paper Collages displayed here are almost all gifted to loved ones, sold, or kept for my personal collection. But I wanted to share the series and the story behind it because they will always hold special meaning for me. They were the first artworks that I had the courage to try after I unexpectedly lost 80% of my vision in 2013. For this reason, I’ll always think of my Magazine Paper Collages as my bravest work.
Grieving, and creatively adapting
After my vision loss, I had a lot of fear about what kind of art-making would be possible for me. For a while I didn’t even want to find out, so I didn’t make any art at all. But my desire to create never went away. As I grieved and became more familiar with seeing the world through blurry vision, I started to think about how I might have to make art differently now.
My full-vision style of art-making had been fairly classic representational. I had enjoyed doing careful line-work and attending to details. My vision loss most affects the part of the eyes that sees detail, so I knew I could no longer work this way. I didn’t know any other way of working, and I feared that any attempts at art-making would be frustratingly unsatisfying.
I wanted my post-vision-loss work to be more expressive. Less concerned with accurate representation. More focused on the things I could still perceive. Light, colour, layers of textures, and visually pleasing compositions.
I hoped that working in a totally unfamiliar medium would prevent me from making disappointing and grief-triggering comparisons with my pre-vision-loss artwork. I chose to work with magazine papers because it was a new medium for me, and I liked the rich and varied colours and textures.
Seeing new possibilities
I was surprised and somewhat comforted in my grief, to find that I thoroughly enjoyed the new paper collage process! And I was even delighted with the end results.
This experience of facing my grief and finding satisfying adaptations for working creatively with my “new” vision turned out to be therapeutic for me. I began to feel more confident that I have the agency and creativity to adapt to other aspects of my life that are different or challenging now. I won’t say that I’m “grateful” for my vision loss. But I am very grateful for my ability to creatively adapt to tough losses. And I’m so appreciative of the new ways I’ve found for doing what I love and what’s important to me.
The Magazine Paper Collage series is the reason for all the other series.