I participate in the Postal Collage project every year hosted by the Round Table Collaboration. They randomly assign five or so participants into a group to make collages in the round. This collaboration consists of adding elements to each other's collages with very little restriction.
At the beginning of September I created a collage with torn paper repaired untidily with band-aids, a childhood photo, and fragments of mail. I deliberately left room for people to add things to it. Although the rules require sending collages once a month, my group was exuberant and collages started arriving well in advance of the deadlines. I had to make sure I kept them in order so as not to mess with the sequence. According to the schedule, I was supposed to receive my original collage back on February 1, 2023 but it came back in early December, 2022.
My collage was unrecognizable. After everyone was through, the torn paper had been neatly mended and the entire sheet was covered with cute animal and plant images with just my photo and the words "I do believe in a right to privacy" left over from the original. I saw individualized narratives rather than a cohesive whole. I could not relate to the cute elements. I set the collage aside and went to London for the Holidays.
Back this week, I took the collage with me to Collage-a-Rama, a monthly collage-making evening at Arc Gallery. There, I looked at it with fresh eyes and gave myself permission to alter significantly. I decided to go with the small newspaper clippings on surveillance and privacy on the top right side of the paper. I found a page of middle-aged men faces in GQ magazine; the faces reminded me of G-men. I used them to make over the animal faces. I also had a sheet of rub-on lettering and decided to add random text into the collage.
The next day, I had a break-through. Using lettering stickers, I added Nextdoor discussion threads about break-ins, catalytic converter thefts, loud noises, theft of packages, recall of Chesa Boudin, police apathy and attacks on progressive politics in San Francisco. I transformed a sweetly nostalgic collage of flowers, greenery, beloved cats and cute bunnies into a raucous commentary about this moment in time in San Francisco. I like the result, even if the collage is a lot busier than what I normally would compose.
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white marker, double-sided tape, scissors, black paint, glue stick