Palimpsest: New Collages, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery Opens February 7th, 2015 Official reception March 7th, 2015
Palimpsest: something reused or altered that still bears visible traces of its earlier form.
This definition speaks to the very nature of collage. A medium made from materials that are often cheap or free, it is open to all and thus embodies the essence of democracy. Collage causes me to examine source materials in a way that is both critical and transformative. My approach swells from my own love of printed matter, an elegant technology, without which most modern innovations and information would not exist, that echoes throughout our daily lives.
The medical manuals, whose beautifully produced lithography, illustrated the inner workings of the human body layer by layer like a pop-up book, a novelty now relegated to childrens books.
The matchbook advertisements that gave one a sense of place/time, often collected as mementos, but also a delivery device for phone numbers and conversation starters.
The natural history journals filled with gorgeous illustrations, but now rife with scientific inaccuracy and poor knowledge of animal behavior built on the perspectives of dominant theories of the time.
By breaking up the context and repurposing these materials into cautionary fables, Vanitas portraits, scrolling Homeric landscapes, and allegorical tales filled with romance and ennui, I hope to create something beautiful out of the imperfect and the antiquated. Inspired by the funerary art and reliquaries of early Catholicism, I create still lives in the fashion of Vanitas, a type of symbolic work of art especially associated with still life painting in the 16th and 17th centuries. The works I fashion can be taken literally as still lives (the materials themselves as both object and former belonging of another human) and also as metaphorically (adhering to much of the symbolism that inhabits much of the Vanitas style reminders of the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death).
The toys and childrens books employed show socialization, teach play and explain issues of morality, but they also demonstrate a patently false categorization of life as a series of black and white vignettes. I attempt to uncover the many shades of grey within our lives by coupling game boards, targets and images from children's stories with more realistic (and sometimes ominous) elements, visually and emotionally recomplicating what was once oversimplified.
Because human beings continuously alter the environments they occupy, the images in this body of work (much like the materials involved in creating these images) seek to explore our relationship to ourselves and to our environment. They attempt to reveal the real and imagined fears ingrained in us through the socialization of our childhood, fears that separate us, that fragment an otherwise collective human existence. They attempt to map the constant flow and buildup of our changing selves and our changing environments, borne from that sediment of life, death, and change that, through erosion of time, bridges what was with what is and what will be.