I’m not an artist. If someone set a blank canvas and some paint down in front of me with the instructions to “go at it,” I’d have a hard time. It’s intimidating! So as a museum educator when I facilitate art-making programs, no matter who the audience, I try to conceive of projects that take some of the intimidation out of the mix.
That’s why collage is great; I’m not asking program participants to make something out of nothing, the way you would with drawing or painting, but instead I’m asking them to select and arrange preexisting materials into a composition that pleases them.
My colleagues and I facilitated many collage projects, or variations on collage, through the Department of Education’s Access Programs this past winter and spring, so we thought we’d bring all of that participant artwork together for an exhibition. This exhibition, Assorted + Associated + Arranged, is on view in the Museum’s Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building now through June 18.
Some of the works on view are more traditional examples of collage. For one project, program participants from Sunnyside Community Services Adult Day Center chose from an assortment of found images to construct new figures and narratives that were inspired by Surrealist photomontage and the special exhibition Exquisite Corpses: Drawing and Disfiguration.
Some works apply collage principals to preexisting 3-D objects. For example, using the assemblages of Louise Nevelson as inspiration, participants from Bishop Henry B. Hucles Episcopal Nursing Home, in partnership with fourth-grade students from P.S. 28, selected and then arranged pieces of painted wood to create abstracted city blocks. Their individual creations are now displayed together as one unified cityscape. In another assemblage project, participants in the Meet Me at MoMA studio art program utilized their own personal items as the material for creating collaborative still-life tableaus. Working in small groups, participants continuously positioned and then repositioned their objects into artful arrangements, photographing their constructions along the way. Three of these photographs are on view.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all of the program participants for their creativity, insights, and enthusiasm. It’s clear that they discovered how to generate an almost infinite amount of creative variations by working with a discreet set of materials. Come check out the exhibition!
Assorted + Associated + Arranged is on view through June 18 in the Museum’s Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building, located at 4 West 54 Street.