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Collage, more than cutting and pasting

To Cut Is to Think

Video: A preview of some of the collages in a new Scrap Exchange show opening Friday, June 16.
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Video: A preview of some of the collages in a new Scrap Exchange show opening Friday, June 16.

While artist Jim Kellough was setting up the new show for The Scrap Exchange’s Cameron Gallery this week, artist Joanne Andrews dropped by and brought her contribution to the gallery show.

Andrews brought two collages, one made from a small wooden box, another from a guitar, with the cover piece pulled aside and the inside of the instrument exposed. A lot of the materials she used came from The Scrap Exchange, Andrews said. The guitar has “Magic” written on the fingerboard. Andrews also used pennies, a bicycle chain, an old train and an old View-Master envelope in the collage. The box has seed envelopes, a pair of eyeglasses and other items.

Andrews is one of 23 artists whose work will be on view and for sale during “To Cut Is to Think,” a collage exhibit opening Friday, June 16, at The Scrap Exchange’s Cameron Gallery. Kellough, who is curating the show (he said he prefers the term “picker”), said this exhibit will have different types of collage in addition to cut-and-paste pieces. Among the collages are Scott Higgins’ sculpture made of wood scraps, Alyssa Hinton’s digital collages, and Jayne Bomberg’s collage using playing cards.

“I find collage very hard,” said Andrews, until recently a middle school art teacher. “Synthesizing a lot of different things in a way that makes sense is really challenging,” she said. Andrews’ collages are “shrines to a relationship as it was developing, and the detritus from the beginning of a relationship.”

Kellough is a photographer, filmmaker and musician who composes using samples, which he compares to the cutting and pasting of visual collage. He also compares collage to the process of assembling different elements in graphic design, and to surrealism.

Mary Yordy, a visual artist who specializes in book conservation at Duke University’s Perkins Library, has several pieces in the exhibit. Her home studio has book-making equipment, including a board shear for cutting pages and a job backer for binding covers to books. She thinks of herself as a creator of handmade books, but collage is an integral part of her work, she said.

When Yordy was a child, she would visit her grandparents, who had a library of old books, “and I would sit on the floor and look at the pictures,” which led to her interest in “old book illustration,” she said. Her studio has many examples of clip art, Golden Book field guides and other illustrations that she cuts (or scans) and pastes into her books. Among Yordy’s many works are a small book of all black and white collages, and numerous “kinetic books,” or books that move. One of her kinetic books is a primer on international sign language, in which the hand signs pop up when the book is opened. Another is titled “The Four Humours,” which allows the reader to move a wheel that illustrates the body parts that make up the four humours (temperaments or moods).

For this show, Yordy has made several variations on “The Blonde Proscenium,” a work in progress. For this work, she scanned pictures of blond hair extensions, which form a curtain. The user moves a flap, which opens the curtain. Eventually, Yordy wants to collaborate with other artists to include collages about women and fashion. Yordy’s collages in “To Cut Is to Think” are similar to the proscenium, except they do not have the interactive effect.

She likes to preserve old materials, even when doing a collage. Using, for example, an old National Georgraphic magazine, “I’m not inclined to cut it up,” she said. More likely, she will scan the images on new paper, which often adheres to the backing better than the older papers, she said.

Sylvia Pfeiffenberger, a writer and musician, has five collages in the show. She is not trained in visual art, but had been exchanging mail art with a friend who is an artist. She attended a workshop that Brooklyn, New York collage artist Erica Harris gave at The Scrap Exchange. “I learned a few technical things from Erica that helped me a lot,” Pfeiffenberger said, and she began putting together collages. She uses vintage images, images from new magazines, and images related to industry from her late father’s collection.

She shares an insight she had putting together her pieces. “In writing it helps if you have an idea of what your narrative is going to be before you write,” Pfeiffenberger said. “With visual art it’s all right to be intuitive. ... Narratives end up emerging from it that you didn’t really plan. That’s what I liked about it.”

Cliff Bellamy: 919-419-6744, @CliffBellamy1

Go and Do

WHAT: “To Cut Is to Think,” a collage exhibit

WHEN: Friday, June 16, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Exhibit stays on view through July 15.

WHERE: Cameron Gallery at The Scrap Exchange, 2050 Chapel Hill Road, Durham

ADMISSION: Free. The event includes snacks, drinks, and free collage making in the Make ‘N’ Take Room.

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