Nearly everything in music is based on something else, isn’t it? Jazz, show tunes, cantatas: they all appropriated something from somewhere. And the genius part is when nobody gets uptight about this because we’re all enjoying ourselves too much.
Same is true for collage, which is (usually) appropriation and was my first medium for art. Beginning in the year I turned thirteen and discovered Tiger Beat and the New York Times fashion supplement, I spent hours perusing pages in a magazine, tearing them out, taping them up on walls, and carefully gluing them to paper and canvas.
The thing about collage is that it’s so much fun. You take things and you make new things. This was a seminal technique for the Dadaists, the Surrealists, and so many artists, including, of course, Robert Rauschenberg. But in my own work, I was haunted by giving credit where credit is due.
With rare exceptions, everything since the ’80s is made from my own sources – photographs, drawing, scans, and paintings – with scattered found objects and an occasional tidbit of wrapping paper. My new work is often digital collage, playing in the wide-open field where collected treasures can be altered in a million different ways. For the Unbearables Assembling Magazine, 1998, reversion to the mélange was irresistible.
Text and images by Catherine Rutgers © 2011. Click on an image for a larger view!